A CRUDE carving which archaeologists feared was graffiti vandalism has turned out to be an ancient work of art.
The huge phallus was found chiselled into rock alongside 15,000 other images.
A huge phallus spotted engraved into a cave wall turned out to be 5,000 years old[/caption]
Experts initially thought the massive male member was the work of modern-day mischief-makers.
But they now estimate the carving to be around 5,000 years old.
The prominent penis is part of the Marra Wonga site in Australia.
Thousands of carvings in an Outback rock shelter are the work of ancient indigenous artists.
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Many of the images tell the Star Dreaming story of the Seven Sisters, where a shapeshifter turns into a boomerang-throwing phallus.
Prof Paul Tacon, from Griffith University, has been cataloging the art.
He said: “In the story, the sisters are pursued by a powerful ancestral being known as Wattanuri, who is often associated with the Orion constellation.
“At one stage, he goes under the ground and emerges as a giant penis and throws boomerangs at the sisters, which we see illustrated quite clearly in that panel.”
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Other artwork inside the cave, such as six-toed feet, show it was used to tell Dreaming stories.
Experts used lasers and drones to document the site and say it may have been a teaching space.
Prof Tacon told the Australian Archaeology journal: “There’s no other site in Australia that features art like this telling the story from one end of the shelter to another.”