Archeologists have discovered what is the world’s oldest known animal cave painting, providing evidence of human settlement in the region.
Known to be 45,500 years old, the painting is a life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig and was found on the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is 136cm by 54cm (53in by 21in) and was discovered by local archaeologist Basran Burhan, currently a Ph.D. student at Australia’s Griffith University. The painting has been created with strokes of red ocher on the interior cave walls. Two hand prints also appear above the back of the pig.
This cave art, according to experts, might demonstrate a scene of the interaction of multiple pigs. However, much of the original art has eroded the bodies of two or three of the other creatures, which makes it difficult to predict what the original art was depicting.
“The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked,” said Maxime Aubert, the co-author of the report published in Science Advances journal.
Aubert and her team made use of Uranium-series isotope dating of the calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting to analyze the age of the painting.
Indonesia is home to one of the oldest known surviving cave art. Before this painting, in December 2019, another cave painting dated at 44,000 years old was found in the Sulawesi island that depicted a buffalo being hunted by part-human, part-animal creatures holding spears and possibly ropes.