Teachers looking for good interactive graphics on human migration in prehistoric times should take a look at the website of Australia’s Bradshaw Foundation. The map requires an Adobe Flash player, and I cannot embed it here — but go take a look, here. “The Journey of Man” seems tailor made for classroom use, if you have a live internet connection and a projector.
Ancient art is the chief focus of the foundation.
Examples of some of the most famous cave and rock paintings populate the site, along with many lesser known creations — the eponymous paintings, the Bradshaw group, generally disappear from U.S. versions of world history texts. The Bradshaw Foundation website explains:
The Bradshaw Paintings are incredibly sophisticated, as you will see from the 32 pictures in the Paintings Section, yet they are not recent creations but originate from an unknown past period which some suggest could have been 50,000 years ago. This art form was first recorded by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, when he was lost on an Kimberley expedition in the north west of Australia. Dr. Andreas Lommel stated on his expedition to the Kimberleys in 1955 that the rock art he referred to as the Bradshaw Paintings may well predate the present Australian Aborigines.
This ancient art carries a story that should intrigue even junior high school students, and it offers examples of archaeological techniques that are critical to determining the ages of undated art in the wild:
According to legend, they were made by birds. It was said that these birds pecked the rocks until their beaks bled, and then created these fine paintings by using a tail feather and their own blood. This art is of such antiquity that no pigment remains on the rock surface, it is impossible to use carbon dating technology. The composition of the original paints cant be determined, and whatever pigments were used have been locked into the rock itself as shades of Mulberry red, and have become impervious to the elements.
Fortuitously, in 1996 Grahame Walsh discovered a Bradshaw Painting partly covered by a fossilised Mud Wasp nest, which scientists have removed and analysed using a new technique of dating, determining it to be 17,000 + years old.
Texas history and geography teachers should note the Bradshaw Foundation’s work on prehistorica art in the Pecos River Valley: “Pecos Experience: Art and archeaology in the lower Pecos.” There is much more here than is found in most Texas history texts — material useful for student projects or good lesson plans.