All children like to draw animals. Who was the first of us to draw a similar drawing? While this may not be known, there is another interesting fact. What is the oldest animal drawing in the world? Apparently one that has now been discovered by a team of archaeologists. It happened in the Leang Tedongnge Cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.
The picture shows a wild pig believed to have been drawn 45,500 years ago. It is painted with life-size dark red ocher pigment. It is believed to be part of a much larger narrative scene. Its discovery provides the oldest evidence that human settlements existed in the region.
“The people who did it were completely modern. They were like us, they had the ability and the tools to paint any color they wanted, ”explained Maxime Aubert. He is a co-author of the report published in Science Advances.
As a dating specialist, Aubert identified a calcite deposit on the painting. He used the uranium isotope dating system to determine that the deposit was 45,500 years old.
This makes the painting at least as old. But it could be a lot older. And that’s because the dating we are using only dates the calcite above, “he added.
The painting measures 136 cm x 54 cm. It depicts a warthog, a type of wild boar that appears to have horns. There are two handprints on the back of the pig. “The pig appears to be watching a fight or social interaction between two other warthogs,” added Adam Brumm, co-author of the post.
The team hopes to be able to extract DNA samples as well. The cave painting is the oldest animal drawing in the world. But it’s not the oldest art made by humans. In South Africa there is a drawing similar to a hashtag (#) that is believed to have been created 73,000 years ago. This would be the oldest known drawing.
Sulawesi is in an important place. It is the largest island in a group that scientists often refer to as Wallacea. The group sits on a dividing line with very different animals and plants on either side. It was a settlement site for modern people on their journey to Australia.
“We know they were in this land mass about 65,000 years ago. It can therefore be assumed that they were in Sulawesi at the same time or even earlier ”, explain the specialists.
“This begs the tantalizing theory that figurative art exists, be it in Sulawesi or on nearby islands, that is over 45,500 years old,” he adds.
“The limestone hills, which are an hour’s drive from Makassar, have innumerable nooks and crannies. That’s how it is in Leang Tedongnge Cave, ”he says. Hence, Amos believes that more discoveries are likely to come in the future.