In what could be the incredible revelation of history, scientists have found the oldest known prehistoric paintings in the caves of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
The 40,000-year-old paintings, which have rewritten the history of art, depict the animals such as “pig-deer” and the outline drawn by human hands in seven caves of Sulawesi. The artworks were found in limestone caves near Maros at southern Sulawesi, which is a large island located east of Borneo.
A highly precise dating method was used to determine the antiquity of the paintings. According to the scientists, they found the artwork dating back to the comparable age of oldest-known rock art from Europe, which has been long considered as the cradle of the early human cultural success embodied by cave painting.
Maxime Aubert, a dating expert from Australia’s Griffith University, said, “It was earlier believed that Western Europe was the centerpiece of a symbolic explosion in early human artistic activity such as cave painting and other forms of image-making, including figurative art, around 40,000 years ago.”
Archeologist Thomas Sutikna of Australia’s University of Wollongong, says the revelations that the people in Sulawesi were carrying the same lifestyle as the European contemporaries clearly suggests that the cave art may have emerged independently worldwide , including Southeast Asia and Europe, at about the same time.
“Rock art is one of the indicators of an abstract mind of the past human, the onset of what we might consider to be one of the hallmarks of modern humans,” Sutikna asserted.
For the study, the researchers focused on 14 cave paintings that comprised of two naturalistic animal depictions and 12 human hand stencils. The paintings showed the animals like babirusa or pig-deer.
According to the scientists, most of the artwork was developed using the red ochre pigment, which helps in producing the red- and mulberry-colored paintings.
To ascertain their origin, the archaeologists used a radioactive decay method of tiny uranium quantities in small mineral growths called “cave popcorn”, which formed on few paintings.
The scientists said that the existence of the art had been known for decades. However, its age had never been calculated. But some experts have carried study on this aspect and estimated its age around 10,000-year-old.
The study’s findings have been detailed in the journal Nature.