Explained: Significance of world’s oldest cave painting discovered in Indonesia

A team of archaeologists has discovered what may be the world’s oldest known cave painting dating back to more than 45,000 years. The cave painting depicts a wild boar endemic to the Sulawesi island of Indonesia, where the painting was found. The central Indonesian island, which occupies an area of over 174,000 sq. km, is situated between Asia and Australia and has a long history of human occupation, the archaeologists note in their findings that have been published in the journal Science Advances. So what is the significance of the cave painting? The archaeologists note that the dated painting of the Sulawesi warty pig seems to be the world’s oldest surviving representational image of an animal. The team came across this painting in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge while conducting field research. The painting was made using red ochre pigment and depicts a pig with a short crest of upright hairs and a pair of horn-like facial warts in front of the eyes, who is likely observing a social interaction or fight between two other warty pigs. These pigs have been hunted by humans for tens of thousands of years and are the most commonly depicted animal in the ice age rock art of the island, which suggests that they have long been used as food and form a “focus of creative thinking and artistic expression” for people of that time, doctoral researcher Basran Burhan who discovered the cave art was quoted as saying in a press release. The book, “The Archaeology of Sulawesi”, published by the Australian National University press in 2018 mentions that the Sulawesi island contains some of the oldest directly dated rock art in the world and also some of the oldest evidence for the presence of hominins beyond the southeastern limits of the Ice Age Asian continent.

Explained: Significance of world’s oldest cave painting discovered in Indonesia

A team of archaeologists has discovered what may be the world’s oldest known cave painting dating back to more than 45,000 years. The cave painting depicts a wild boar endemic to the Sulawesi island of Indonesia, where the painting was found. The central Indonesian island, which occupies an area of over 174,000 sq. km, is situated between Asia and Australia and has a long history of human occupation, the archaeologists note in their findings that have been published in the journal Science Advances.

So what is the significance of the cave painting?

The archaeologists note that the dated painting of the Sulawesi warty pig seems to be the world’s oldest surviving representational image of an animal. The team came across this painting in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge while conducting field research.

The painting was made using red ochre pigment and depicts a pig with a short crest of upright hairs and a pair of horn-like facial warts in front of the eyes, who is likely observing a social interaction or fight between two other warty pigs. These pigs have been hunted by humans for tens of thousands of years and are the most commonly depicted animal in the ice age rock art of the island, which suggests that they have long been used as food and form a “focus of creative thinking and artistic expression” for people of that time, doctoral researcher Basran Burhan who discovered the cave art was quoted as saying in a press release.

The book, “The Archaeology of Sulawesi”, published by the Australian National University press in 2018 mentions that the Sulawesi island contains some of the oldest directly dated rock art in the world and also some of the oldest evidence for the presence of hominins beyond the southeastern limits of the Ice Age Asian continent.

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