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Apart from central Europe, its applications have been most common in Scandinavia, Iceland, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Greenland and Antarctica, but there have also been applications in Kenya, Peru, Britain, Russia, China, central Asia and the Caucasus.

Its use in archaeology has rarely been explored (Benedict 1975, 1985; Bettinger and Oglesby 1985; Broadbent 1987; Broadbent and Bergqvist 1986; Follmann 1961a, 1961b; Laundon 1980; Winchester 1988), and aside from myself, no rock art researcher has sought to apply lichenometry to rock art.

The method involves no interference at all with the rock art itself, and if samples were taken of dead lichen matter their removal would not have any adverse effect, in contrast to sample removal for other dating methods.

Clearly, for rock art of recent periods that can physically be related to lichen growths, lichenometry is one of the most desirable methods to use, and yet it is not used at all in this.

The use of lichens in the dating of archaeological remains was initially proposed by Renaud (1939) in Spain.

Developed by Austrian Roland Beschel half a century ago, and first applied in the European Alps (Beschel 1950, 1957), this dating technique has been widely used in estimating the ages of recent geomorphic exposures, particularly glacial moraines (Worsley 1990).

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It would also be the more relevant in future rock art dating.If such samples were collected from carefully chosen sites within the thallic topography they would be likely to provide dates very close to the age of the petroglyph.This would be an ideal combination of methods to determine such an age with great precision, particularly of comparatively recent rock art.The colonisation of gravestones, which is extremely erratic, takes place after a minimum of eight years.The ‘great period’ of growth lasts for approximately 20 years after the erection of the gravestone.

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