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Timelines of World Art: Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific

16,000 BC–7000 BC

Paintings found in shallow caves in Arnhem Land in northern Australia of kangaroos, fish and supernatural beings employ the so-called 'X-ray' style, in which the internal organs and bones are depicted. These images are among the earliest and most distinctive forms of Aborginal art and continue to be produced today. Read more...

c. 4000 BC

Legend tells that the ancient wall depictions of the Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent at Wirlin-gunyang in Australia were painted by the deities themselves at the end of their journey inland. Read more...

1600 BC–1500 BC

Some of the earliest known examples of sculpture produced in Oceania are stone mortars, pestles and free-standing figures carved in the forms of humans, animals and birds. Although their original function is not certain they are now associated with cults of warfare and fertility. Read more...

c. 1400 BC–c. 1200 BC

The Lapita culture produces pottery in many shapes but characterized by distinctive stamped patterns. Spreading to a large number of Pacific Islands, this type of pottery exerts a long-lasting influence on later types of wares. Read more...


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