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For example, in Arnhem Land and the Kimberley as a final stage in mortuary rites the bones of a deceased person may be painted with ochres and then wrapped in paperbark and placed in a rocksheleter or cave, or placed in a log coffin.The oldest evidence so far found of mortuary practices by modern humans (and hence evidence of a belief in an afterlife) is at Lake Mungo in western New South Wales (see Australian Prehistory page).
Traditional use of ochres included not only body and other painting (such as bark and wooden sculptures), but also a role in mortuary ceremonies.The use of ochre pigments is thus a very long tradition in Australia.In contemporary Aboriginal art, artists select from the same broad variety of modern and traditional materials and techniques as non-indigenous artists.These traditional materials were applied in several ways: Stencil images are found widely in rock art, usually of hands or arms, animal tracks, boomerangs, spear throwers or other tools such as stone axes.Stencil images are some of the oldest painted images known from the Australian continent.Contemporary Aboriginal artists use a considerable variety of materials and techniques in painting.
Some of these materials are rooted strongly in tradition - such as the use of ochres in the Kimberley and, to a lesser extent, ochres on bark from Arnhem Land.
The gwion gwion image is used on this Web site as the logo on each page.
Gwion gwion is the name of a long-beaked bird which started as a spirit man - it pecks at the rock face to catch insects, and sometimes draws blood, leaving the images behind on the rock.
Regardless of the exact age, the Mungo 3 burial (through the use of ochre paint) is evidence of communication and ceremonial practices, and perhaps also of trade, amongst the early human residents of eastern Australia.
Ochre is plentiful across most of Australia and it occurs in many of the older archaeological sites.
At this site, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Australia, a female cremation burial was identified in 1969 and provided evidence of the world's oldest known cremation rite - around 26 000 years old.