The Oldest Animal Art

Many of us have grown used to the idea that pre-historic cave painting is a European artform, and we rightly delight in the images at Lascaux in France, for example. However, a new study has shown that the earliest images of animals yet discovered are to be found in south-east Asia.

(Image: © AA Oktaviana)

This is a digitally enhanced image of a painting at Leang Tedongnge Cave, in Sulawesi, Indonesia, dated from 45,000 years ago.

As reported in the Live Science article:

The mulberry colored painting, drawn with the red mineral ochre, shows the profile of what is likely a Sulawesi warty pig (Sus celebensis), a wild stubby-legged beast with facial warts that can weigh up to nearly 190 pounds (85 kilograms). These pigs “are still found there today, although in ever-dwindling numbers,” said study co-lead researcher Adam Brumm, a professor of archaeology at Griffith University’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution.

Also noteworthy are the stenciled hands on the left of the photograph. These types of images have been found throughout the world in early contexts.

2 Responses to The Oldest Animal Art

  1. It’s hard to confirm if its really 45k years ago though

  2. jakking says:

    “To date the newfound rock art, the team sampled a few calcite minerals that had “grown” over the pigs after they were painted. The researchers did this by using uranium-series dating, a method that measures uranium’s radioactive decay. When rainwater seeps through a limestone cave, it dissolves tiny amounts of uranium, which decays over time into the element thorium. By measuring the ratio of uranium to thorium in each mineral sample, the scientists determined when the minerals started growing over the paintings.

    This technique revealed that the warty pig from Leang Tedongnge was at least 45,500 years old.”

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