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Check out the world’s oldest cave painting, a delightful pig dating back 45,500 years





Researchers believe this painting of a pig is the oldest known drawing depicting an animal.

Maxime Aubert

More than 45,000 years ago, ancient artists sculpted a detailed image of a wild boar on a cave wall in Indonesia. Scholars now believe it is the world’s oldest cave painting, as well as the earliest surviving description of the animal world.

A team from Griffith University of Australia found the extremely well-preserved image in the limestone karst of Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo. The image depicts a life-size suid – four legs, tail, snout, ears, bristles, facial warts and all – in red and purple pigment made from powdered ocher mixed with juice. Above the rotating back edge of the pig, two stenciled human hand marks appear, one left and one right, probably left there as a kind of signature by the creators Sulawesi.

“These Ice Age people from Sulawesi were skilled and talented artists with a highly developed knowledge of the behavioral ecology and social life of the wild boar species described in this newly dated work of art,” Adam Brumm told , a professor of archeology at Griffith University of Australia I He is also a co – author of astudy published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances that researches in detail the origins of painting, as well as another that was found nearby dating back 32,000 years.

The oldest of the two drawings measures 136 centimeters by 54 centimeters (about 4.5 meters by 1.7 meters). It seems to show derr celebensis, or the Sulawesi wild boar, engaged in some kind of social interaction with two other pigs (a war? a mating ritual?), although erosion has made it more difficult to determine exactly what is going on in the suid scene. It is also difficult to say whether the other two animals were pulled at the same time as the better-preserved pig.

A team from Griffith discovered the drawing on the back of a cave known as Leang Tedongnge while observing Sulawesi in 2017. To determine its age, they used a technique called the uranium series to analyze a calcite deposit that formed in a part of the image. The mineral formation is at least 45,500 years old, which means that the artwork itself may be even older.

The past years have brought other exciting discoveries of ancient, albeit figurative, drawings, including one found in South Africa 73,000 years ago that resembles a hashtag and another between 2100 and 4100 BC that may show miracles. of people by a stellar explosion.

The discovery of Sulawesi is figurative, however, and captures in stunning detail a key creature of life for the islanders long ago.

“The hunting economy of these people revolved mainly around delightful pigs for tens of thousands of years, and most of the surviving images of animals we find in rock art are also of these pigs,” Brumm said. “You could call it a kind of ancient ‘ancient love’ that is a defining feature of early human culture on this island.”


The mouth of the Leang Tedongnge cave containing the drawing.

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