Is this the oldest Stone Mason work in the world?

Much older than Stonehenge, and even Gobekli Tepe, the ‘Nawarla Gabarnmung’ Stone monument in Arnhem land Australia is 50,000 years old.

By: originalpeopleonline 

On: November 12, 2018


Located in south-western Arnhem land Australia is a stone monument that was created by the aboriginal Australians 50,000 years ago. A part of Jawoyn country, Nawarla Gabarnmung is an incredible example of engineering a rock shelter not seen elsewhere at this period of time in ancient history. Meaning, “hole in the rock”, “passageway”, or “valley open from the centre” by the Jawoyn people, Nawarla Gabarnmung is a sacred and protected site. Jawoyn Elder, Margaret Katherine, has the responsibility of safe guarding this very special place today. The Jawoyn people have only allowed ‘Gabarnmung’ to be studied in recent years. Margaret explains how sharing knowledge with blackfullas, and whitefullas is important.

• Older than Stonehenge

• Older than The Pyramids of Egypt

• Older than the recent find of Gobekli Tepe (9000 BC)

• No evidence yet found of stone work like this elsewhere in the world ‘50,000’ years ago

• Rock Art found contains some of the oldest mystifying works of Art in the world


This [Passageway] monument or “transformation of a sheltered space” that was created by the skilled hands of the Jawoyn ancestors is the oldest known example in the world of altering a stone foundation. Charcoal deposits found above the very bottom layers present a median age of 49,350 cal BP.


The work completed at Gabarnmung by these ancient engineers may not have required the precise mathematics to build a great pyramid, but still valued math and the intelligent knowledge of working with stone for a great length of time. The shelter was constructed by tunneling into a naturally eroded cliff face. The roof is 1.75m to 2.45m above floor level, supported by 50 pillars created by the natural erosion of fissure lines in the bedrock. 36 pillars were painted. Some pre-existing pillars were removed, some were reshaped and some moved to new positions. In some areas ceiling slabs were removed and repainted by the ancient Jawoyn people who used the shelter.

Looking at other major world monuments, Gabarnmung “stands out” and clearly needs to be noted for the significant contribution and example the Original people of Australia have given to human history.

Gabarnmung (48,000 BC)


“Some of the oldest rock art paintings in the world are found at Gabarnmung” 

This [hole in the wall] ‘monument’ contains a historical gallery of rock art and some of the oldest full paintings in the world. Also a historical recording of human history like many other sites in the Arnhem Land area of Australia. The Artwork at Gabarnmung rivals the paintings found in France and Spain. Noting that most dates for Rock Art are questionable, so are those greater dates now suggested for France and Spain[65,000 years]

The significance of the Gabarnmung rock art is in the amazing detail. These mystifying and intriguing images demonstrate the experience of the Jawoyn Artists. The people and culture still being here today to help tell the story is what makes the works of art much more alive. The many examples found in rock painting across Australia over the past 200 years explains how the Original people have been painting since the earliest times in human History. A few years ago Smithsonian wrote an article making these comparisons of Gabarnmung:

If science can offer something to the Jawoyn, the Jawoyn have something to offer science. “We don’t have anyone to explain Chauvet Cave to us. In France, these are sites with no memory, no life. With Gabarnmung, we are lucky. There is the living culture, the memories. The Jawoyn can help us build a new knowledge.” Jean-Michel Geneste

“ Like the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of the expansive rock shelter was a mural of breathtakingly vivid and bold works of art – hundreds of them. And the paintings extended up and down 36 remarkable sandstone columns that, like the pillars of a temple, appeared to support the cave”

Some examples found in aboriginal rock art are not found anywhere else in the world. There are over 100,00 rock art sites across Australia, the amount in excess has been unknown for years. [There are more rock art sites in Australia than anywhere else in the world] Nawarla Gabarnmung also contains images of extinct Megafauna. The significant example being the giant flightless bird, ‘Genyornis newtoni‘. Taller than a man and thought to have went extinct on the Australian continent about 45,000 years ago, the Jawoyn ancestors painted and left us a distinctive picture of Genyornis on the wall.

I understand that today we have a fairly solid way to calibrate raw radiocarbon dates for the most recent 13,000 years of our planet’s past, but fragmentary data makes anything over difficult, however taking into account the “significant recordings of history” that Original people have shown across Australia since ancient times. not all their evidence is necessarily affected by calibration or date adjustment.

‘Nawarla Gabarnmung’ is the oldest known example in the world of altering a foundation, to form a shelter or monument. It was created by the hands of Jawyon ancestors who were stone engineers 50,000 years ago. Is this not the oldest example of stone mason work in the world? Well aboriginal Australians are certainly the only group of Stone Engineers found at this time in human history.

Acknowledgement to the Traditional Jawoyn People and country.

Further sources-

Engineers of the Arnhem Land plateau: Evidence for the origins and transformation of sheltered spaces at Nawarla Gabarnmang-

Dating painted Panel E1 at Nawarla Gabarnmang, central-western Arnhem Land plateau-

Impact Rock Art –

Research History Kimberly Rock Art – Read

Australian Rock Art Archive –

Lascaux Cave Paintings – 

Cave Paintings In Altamira Spain-