LifestyleThe oldest known storytelling painting found in an Indonesian cave

The oldest known storytelling painting found in an Indonesian cave

Cave painting in an Indonesian cave (illustrative photo)
Cave painting in an Indonesian cave (illustrative photo)
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Marie-Ange Ostré

4 July 2024 13:13

An extraordinary discovery was made in Indonesia. In the South Sulawesi province, scientists came across the oldest figurative painting in the world. "This is the oldest evidence of storytelling," said a professor from an Australian university.

The paintings in the Karampuang Hill caves on the island of Sulawesi depict a wild pig and three human figures. Scientists led by Prof. Adhisa Agus Oktaviana, an Indonesian rock art specialist from the National Research and Innovation Agency in Jakarta, confirm that the paintings are at least 52,300 years old. Therefore, they are over five thousand years older than previously known cave art.

Remarkable discovery

According to Prof. Maxime Aubert from Griffith University in Australia, the discovery will change the perception of human evolution. "The found painting tells a complex story," the researcher noted.

"This is the oldest evidence of storytelling. It is the oldest such work of human hands. This shows that humans at the time had the capacity to think in abstract terms," Aubert added.

Scientists emphasise that, of course, there are older pieces of evidence of drawings found, for example, on rocks in the Blombos caves in South Africa. According to some sources, these date back 75,000 or even 100,000 years. However, they consist of geometric patterns, not paintings like the ones discovered in Indonesia.

A piece of rock art

The pig depicted in the painting has a partially open mouth. The most significant human figure stretches its arms and seems to be holding a stick. The second figure is painted directly in front of the pig and appears to have a stick that may be touching the animal's throat. The third figure is depicted upside down, and one of its hands reaches towards the pig's head.

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