World’s oldest figurative art discovery in Indonesia


This 9 October 2014 video says about itself:

World’s oldest cave paintings from 40,000 years ago discovered in Indonesia

Scientists have calculated that ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are at least as old as prehistoric art in Europe, laying to rest the idea that a human creativity was first born on the western continent.

Using uranium decay levels, scientists concluded that the drawings were made 35,000-40,000 years ago, roughly the same period as drawings found in Spain and France.

One Asian handprint is the oldest on record at 39,000-years-old. Archaeologists estimated the age of a dozen stencils of hands in mulberry red and two detailed drawings of an animal described as a “pig-deer“.

The Indonesian cave drawings are part of more 100 pieces of art in Sulawesi, southeast of Borneo.

From Nature today:

Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo

Abstract

Figurative cave paintings from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi date to at least 35,000 years ago (ka) and hand-stencil art from the same region has a minimum date of 40 ka1.

Here we show that similar rock art was created during essentially the same time period on the adjacent island of Borneo. Uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits that overlie a large reddish-orange figurative painting of an animal at Lubang Jeriji Saléh—a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo—yielded a minimum date of 40 ka, which to our knowledge is currently the oldest date for figurative artwork from anywhere in the world.

In addition, two reddish-orange-coloured hand stencils from the same site each yielded a minimum uranium-series date of 37.2 ka, and a third hand stencil of the same hue has a maximum date of 51.8 ka.

We also obtained uranium-series determinations for cave art motifs from Lubang Jeriji Saléh and three other East Kalimantan karst caves, which enable us to constrain the chronology of a distinct younger phase of Pleistocene rock art production in this region. Dark-purple hand stencils, some of which are decorated with intricate motifs, date to about 21–20 ka and a rare Pleistocene depiction of a human figure—also coloured dark purple—has a minimum date of 13.6 ka.

Our findings show that cave painting appeared in eastern Borneo between 52 and 40 ka and that a new style of parietal art arose during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is now evident that a major Palaeolithic cave art province existed in the eastern extremity of continental Eurasia and in adjacent Wallacea from at least 40 ka until the Last Glacial Maximum, which has implications for understanding how early rock art traditions emerged, developed and spread in Pleistocene Southeast Asia and further afield.

Like Europe, Borneo hosted Stone Age cave artists: here.

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2 thoughts on “World’s oldest figurative art discovery in Indonesia

    • It should be remembered that radioactive decay is NOT a linear process over 1000’s of years, and it tapers off, slowing exponentially, rapidly at first, then slowing to what seems linear over the following 100’s of years. This has been observed in practice by some nuclear scientists using shorter lived ‘active’ substances, but is ‘forgotten’ or not actually known by those whose ‘trade’ it’s not. It’s the same as the heat cooling process, which occurs rapidly at first, then progressively slowing logarithmically, David Hine

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