World’s oldest cave paintingDate: 16 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
A team of archaeologists has discovered 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 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.
The 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.
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 south-eastern limits of the Ice Age Asian continent.
Hominins include modern humans, extinct human species, and our immediate ancestors. Homo sapiens are the first modern humans who evolved from their hominid predecessors between 200,000-300,000 years ago.
It is estimated that these modern humans started migrating outside of Africa some 70,000-100,000 years ago.
Dating the painting
While dating rock art can be challenging, for this painting archaeologists used a method called U-series isotope analysis, which uses calcium carbonate deposits that form naturally on the cave wall surface to determine its age.
For the painting, early humans used a calcium carbonate deposit. When it was analysed, they were able to figure out a minimum age for the painting at around 45,500 years.
Sulawesi is a central Indonesian island, located between Asia and Australia and has a long history of human occupation.