21st Century Wire says…
The latest great Paleolithic cave paintings discovery has turned conventional timelines of human geographic habitation and culture on its head.
A delicate dating method has determined that cave paintings discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi – are more than 40,000 years old.
“This find enables us to get away from this Euro-centric view of a creative explosion that was special to Europe”, explains Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum.
ANCIENT ART GALLERY: The cave opening on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia (Photo: AST)
Italy boasts the next (suspected) oldest ancient masterpiece mural at Fumane cave dated between 36,000 and 41,000 years ago. Carbon dating shows how the famous rhinoceros painting in France’s Chauvet cave is between 32,000 and 39,000 years old.
The level of skill demonstrated at Sulawesi is breath-taking.
One of the most impressive aspects of this incredible find is how the ancient artists used stencils made by blowing a read pigment around hands placed on the rock face of the cave. Potentially new mammals have also been introduced here, like the fruit-eating pigs named babirusas or “pig-deers.”
“The key question is, how old are those paintings? To answer that question, the research team used tools tipped with diamond saw blades to scrape off millimeter-thick slivers of thin mineral deposits that covered the paintings. The deposits, known as “cave popcorn,” were subjected to uranium-thorium radioisotope dating techniques. Because the popcorn built up over the paintings, the results could provide a minimum age for the artwork.
Aubert and his colleagues found that one of the 12 hand stencils they sampled was at least 39,900 years old, and that the ‘pig-deer’ drawing was made at least 35,400 years ago. That would make the stencil the oldest of its type known in the world, and rank the pig-deer among the world’s oldest representational drawings.”
An enhanced diagram from the Sulawesi caves shows a drawing of a “pig-deer” with a hand stencil to the right (Image: NBC)
No doubt that Australian scientist Maxime Aubert’s historic discover is truly remarkable, and shows how Paleolithic man was busy doing the very same thing at two opposite ends of the planet at the same time. What’s been more difficult, however, is to show evidence of continuous habitation at such locations, especially when your investigation is spanning a gap of 40,000.
Watch this video on the Indonesian cave art here:
Cave paintings change ideas about the origin of art
The artworks are in a rural area on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.
Until now, paintings this old had been confirmed in caves only in Western Europe.
Dated rock art from Leang Timpuseng (Image: GoNature.com).
Researchers tell the journal Nature that the Indonesian discovery transforms ideas about how humans first developed the ability to produce art.
Australian and Indonesian scientists have dated layers of stalactite-like growths that have formed over coloured outlines of human hands. Early artists made them by carefully blowing paint around hands that were pressed tightly against the cave walls and ceilings. The oldest is at least 40,000 years old.
(Photo: Maxime Aubert)
This painting, from Bone, is of a variety a wild endemic dwarfed bovid found only in Sulawesi, which the inhabitants probably hunted.
There are also human figures, and pictures of wild hoofed animals that are found only on the island. Dr Maxime Aubert, of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, who dated the paintings found in Maros in Southern Sulawesi, explained that one of them (shown immediately below) was probably the earliest of its type.
“The minimum age for (the outline of the hand) is 39,900 years old, which makes it the oldest hand stencil in the world,” said Dr Aubert.
“Next to it is a pig that has a minimum age of 35,400 years old, and this is one of the oldest figurative depictions in the world, if not the oldest one,” he told BBC News.
There are also paintings in the caves that are around 27,000 years old, which means that the inhabitants were painting for at least 13,000 years…
READ MORE ANCIENT HISTORY AT: 21st Century Wire Ancient History Files