Archaeologists have found the world’s oldest recorded animal cave painting yet discovered, depicting a wild pig, believed to have been drawn over 45,500 years ago in Indonesia.
Painted with dark red ochre in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the image is of an almost life-sized representation of a Sulawesi warty pig (pictured below), and is believed to be a part of a narrative scene. This painting is the earliest evidence of human settlement in the area.
Human hand prints can be seen beside the painting to give a sense of scale, presumably serving as a kind of artist’s signature. Researchers have claimed that the hand prints were made by placing ones’ hands on a surface before spitting pigment over it to make an outline. There are hopes that DNA samples may be extracted from this.
“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,” reported Maxime Aubert, the report’s co-author, which was published in Science Advances journal.
The painting was dated by examining calcite deposits that had formed on top of the painting, which dated back to 45,500. However, it is likely that the painting under it is even older.
Co-author of the report, Adam Brumm, said that “The pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs.”
It is reminiscent of similar 30-40,000 year old paintings which have been discovered in Europe, such as in El Castillo, Spain, or in France’s Chauvet Cave, where impressive depictions of mammoths, lions and other creatures were found.
While this newest discovery is the oldest known depiction of a creature, it is not the oldest man-made drawing – in South Africa, a series of sketched lines on a stone were recently discovered which are believed to be 73,000 years old.