World’s oldest artwork, dating back 44,000 years, uncovered in Indonesian cave

World’s oldest artwork, dating back 44,000 years, uncovered in Indonesian cave

A cave painting dating back to nearly 44,000 years. Image: Indonesias National Research Centre for Archaeology/Griffith University/via Reuters

Jakarta, December 12

An Indonesian cave painting that depicts a prehistoric hunting scene could be the world’s oldest figurative artwork dating back nearly 44,000 years, pointing to an advanced artistic culture, according to new research.

Discovered two years ago on the island of Sulawesi, the 4.5 metre (13 foot) wide painting features wild animals being chased by half-human hunters wielding what appear to be spears and ropes, said the study published in Nature on Wednesday.

Using dating technology, the team at Australia’s Griffith University said it had confirmed that the limestone cave painting dated back at least 43,900 years during the Upper Paleolithic period.

“This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” researchers said.

The discovery comes after a painting of an animal in a cave on the Indonesian island of Borneo was earlier determined to have been at least 40,000 years old.

For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, but Indonesian paintings have challenged that theory.

There are at least 242 caves or shelters with ancient imagery on Sulawesi alone, and new sites are being discovered annually, the team said.

In the latest dated scene, hunters are depicted in dark red colours with human bodies and the heads of animals including birds and reptiles.

The painting, which is in poor condition, suggests that a highly advanced artistic culture existed some 44,000 years ago, punctuated by folklore, religious myths and spiritual belief, the team said.

“(The scene) may be regarded not only as the earliest dated figurative art in the world but also as the oldest evidence for the communication of a narrative in Palaeolithic art,” researchers said.

“This is noteworthy, given that the ability to invent fictional stories may have been the last and most crucial stage in the evolutionary history of human language and the development of modern-like patterns of cognition.” —AFP

Cities

View All

‘Govt to spend Rs 271 cr to make Sultanpur Lodhi heritage town’

Urban Development Minister Sarkaria unfurls Tricolour in hol...

CCTV cameras lying defunct for 5 months

The contract of the private company, which is responsible fo...

Child found dead in bed box, mother held

Had stuffed glove in two-and-a-half-year-old boy’s mouth; co...

Suspected case of coronavirus at PGI, patient from Mohali

28-year-old man had travelled to China on Jan 16, returned o...

City to get second medical college

Admn has started work on proposal, says UT Adviser at R-Day ...

Child dies after being mauled by stray dogs

Was playing near dump at Bahomajra village

Brace for traffic snarls in city

Company begins work on ROB/RUB project near Hero Bakery Chow...

300 traffic marshals deployed on busy roads

To help police personnel in regulating traffic, will issue d...