Archaeologists have found the world’s oldest cave in Indonesia that includes a depiction of animals dating back to around 45,000 years, suggesting the artwork itself could be much older. The painting was of three pigs, with several hand stencils were discovered in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge on Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
The people were unaware of the cave sites existence until it was discovered in 2017 by Adam Brumm of Griffith University, Australia and his team. “I was struck dumb,” said Brumm.
“It is one of the most spectacular and well-preserved figurative animal paintings known from the whole region and it just immediately blew me away,” he said.
Sulawesi is known to have some of the world’s oldest cave art. Brumm and his fellow mates used a technique called Uranium-series to analyse a mineral that extended part of the image, and that has formed the cave art.
Brumm said: “It adds to the evidence that the first modern human cave art traditions did not arise in ice age Europe, as long assumed, but at an earlier point in the human journey”.
The painting of pigs is more than a metre long, and the images were all painted using red ochre pigment. They appear to be Sulawesi warty pigs. Sulawesi pigs are a short-legged wild boar that is endemic to island and is characterised by its distinctive facial warts. Brumm said: “This species was of great importance to early hunters-gatherers in Sulawesi. These pigs appear in younger cave art across the region, and archaeological digs show these pigs were the most hunted game species of Sulawesi for thousands of years.”