Sulawesi Cave Painting: Here's all you need to know about the 44,000 years old artwork
Animal Painting found on the wall of Leang Bulu'Sipong 4 cave in the south of Sulawesi in Indonesia is at least 44,000 years old and is claimed to be the world's oldest story. The painting depicts a buffalo being hunted by part-human, part-animal creatures holding spears and ropes and wild pigs.
As per researchers, the scene could be the world's oldest-recorded story. The findings were presented in the journal Nature by archaeologists from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.
It is to be noted that this is not the oldest recorded painting in the world. In 2019, the scientists founded 'humanity's oldest drawing' on a fragment of rock in South Africa which is said to be 73,000 years old.
Highlights of Sulawesi Cave Painting:
1- The painting is almost 5 meters wide and depicts wild pigs and a buffalo called an anoa.
2- Some smaller figures around buffalo looks similar to humans but also animal features-- tails and snouts.
3- A part of the painting also depicts that the anoa is flanked by several figures holding spears and ropes.
4- The depiction of therianthropes (animal-human figures) in the paintings suggest that the early humans in that region had the ability to conceive things that do not exist in the natural world.
5- The researchers are of the view that the painting has mythological or supernatural connotations. For instance, half-lion, half-human ivory figure from Germany which is around 40,000 years old.
Sulawesi Cave Painting: Popcorn Dating
To find out the origins of the painting, the researchers analysed the 'Calcite popcorn' that had built upon it.
It is known that Radioactive Uranium in the mineral slowly decays into Thorium. The team measured levels of different isotopes of these elements.
Findings of Popcorn Dating:
The Calcite on one pig began forming at least 43,900 years ago while the deposits on anoa are older than 40,900 years. However, the researchers could not find any Calcite samples over the therianthropes which rule the possibility that these were later added in the artwork.
The researchers are of the view that the therianthropes and the animals were painted at the same time as they have similar colour and are weathered in the same way. It would be worth testing whether the pigments on the animals and the therianthropes are same or not.
As per the researcher, it may not be the oldest drawing but could be the oldest story ever found. It could also be the oldest animal drawing ever found. Researchers have questioned whether the painting represents a single story or it could be a series of images painted over a long period of time.