Oldest-Dated Cave Painting Found in Indonesia

​A new discovery of a cave painting has surprised researchers as the finding is believed to be more than 44,000-year-old. The cave painting was unveiled in Indonesia, and it depicts a bunch of therianthropes, which are part-human, part-animal figures, hunting massive mammals with either spears or ropes.

The team of archaeologists who discovered the painting were led by Griffith University in Australia and said that the finding sheds new light on the root of modern human cognitive abilities. Published in the journal Nature, their study tells the details of the ancient painting found in a limestone cave located on Sulawesi, and names it the oldest known cave painting ever discovered.

The illustrative representation offers some of the most straightforward insight ever recorded into the earliest narratives. The Upper Palaeolithic cave art of Europe holds the oldest paintings earlier known of humans and animals cooperating in evident scenes.

Depicting the Human-Animal Connection?

Professor Maxime Aubert, Associate Professor Adam Brumm, and fellow colleagues utilized Uranium-series examination to date the 14 feet (4.5 meters) massive rock art panel as at least 44,000 years old. The one-color paintings seem to show figures similar to humans hunting six animals: two pigs and four small buffaloes. A minimum of eight small human-like figures using spears or ropes are depicted in the illustration along with the animals.

Both the humanoid figures and animals were tinted at the same time, by the same performer, using the same technique and oxblood pigment, according to the scientists. The paintings show a similar condition of erosion as well.

The paper authors say that the inclusion of therianthropes​ may suggest that Indonesian cave art engaged religious-like believes about the human-animal interaction way before humans first started to create art in Europe.

Professor Aubert said: “The cave painting from Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4 suggests that there was no gradual evolution of Palaeolithic art from simple to complex around 35,000 years ago – at least not in Southeast Asia. All of the major components of a highly advanced artistic culture were present in Sulawesi by 44,000 years ago, including figurative art, scenes, and therianthropes.”

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