Stunning cave paintings discovered in Indonesia include what might be the oldest known depictions of animals on the planet, dating back at least 45,000 years. Archaeologists have discovered the animal cave painting in Indonesia – a wild pig – believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago. Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene. The picture was found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi.
It provides the earliest evidence of human settlement of the region. Even local people were unaware of the cave sites’ existence until their discovery in 2017 by Adam Brumm at Griffith University, Australia, and his team. The report says that the painting, which measures 136cm by 54cm (53in by 21in), depicts a pig with horn-like facial warts characteristic of adult males of the species. There are two hand prints above the back of the pig, which also appears to be facing two other pigs that are only partially preserved. The painting may be the world’s oldest art depicting a figure, but it is not the oldest human-produced art. Brumm and his colleagues used a technique called uranium-series dating to analyse a mineral formation that overlapped part of the image, and that must have formed after the cave art was produced.