Tech & Science : World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo - PressFrom - Australia
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Tech & Science World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo

00:45  08 november  2018
00:45  08 november  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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We have no idea who painted a large red animal on the walls of a remote cave in Borneo at least 40 , 000 years ago , but their work is the oldest - known example of figurative rock art in the world , according to new research.

On the wall of a cave deep in the jungles of Borneo , there is an image of a thick-bodied, spindly-legged animal , drawn in reddish ocher. It may be a crude image. But it also is more than 40 , 000 years old , scientists reported on Wednesday, making this the oldest figurative art in the world .

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: Pindi Setiawan View over East Kalimantan

We have no idea who painted a large red animal on the walls of a remote cave in Borneo at least 40,000 years ago, but their work is the oldest-known example of figurative rock art in the world, according to new research.

The painting possibly depicts a species of wild cattle known as a banteng.

And it was created at least 5,000 years earlier than animal paintings on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and caves in France, which until now were thought to be the oldest examples of this kind of rock art.

The Borneo banteng is part of a panel of rock art that includes hand stencils thought to be at least 37,500 years old, a team of Australian and Indonesian scientists reports today in the journal Nature.

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A cave drawing in Borneo is at least 40 , 000 years old, raising intriguing questions about creativity in ancient societies. The drawing at lower left is the oldest known figure made But it also is more than 40 , 000 years old, scientists reported on Wednesday, making this the oldest figurative art in the world .

A patchy, weathered painting of a beast daubed on the wall of a limestone cave in Borneo may be the oldest known example of figurative rock art , say researchers Images of wild cattle that scientists have dated to at least 40 , 000 years old making them the world ’ s oldest know figurative depictions.

The new dates suggest figurative rock art depicting the natural world evolved in different parts of the world at roughly the same time, said Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist and geochemist from Griffith University.

"We know that modern humans arrived [around 40,000 years ago] in Europe, but they were in South-East Asia at least 20,000 years before that and also Australia," Dr Aubert said.

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The world ’ s earliest- known cave painting of an animal has been discovered on Borneo in Indonesia. It dates back to at least 40 , 000 years ago “The oldest cave art image we dated is a large painting of an unidentified animal , probably a species of wild cattle still found in the jungles of Borneo ," said

The artwork , which is at least 40 , 000 years old , is thought to be the oldest example of figurative painting - where real objects are depicted rather than abstract The painting was found in a system of caves in the remote and rugged mountains of East Kalimantan, an Indonesian province on Borneo .

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: Pindi Setiawan Archaeologists dated a range of paintings including animals such as bantengs, a species of wild cattle. Rich galleries of art through the ages

Dr Aubert and his colleagues dated rock art from several caves in rugged limestone outcrops, in the Indonesian province of Kalimantan on the eastern side of Borneo.

The caves are known to contain thousands of images of animals such as banteng and the extinct tapir, as well as hand stencils and symbols.

The team used techniques that detect uranium and thorium levels to gauge when layers of calcium carbonate were deposited under and over paintings, to give them maximum and minimum dates.

"There's actually three different phases of cave art," Dr Aubert said

The oldest phase includes red and orange-coloured pigments used to depict large animals and create hand stencils.

"We know that this phase of cave painting starts between 40,000 and 52,000 years ago," Dr Aubert said.

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The world ’ s earliest known painting of an animal has been discovered on a cave wall in Borneo . The artwork , which is at least 40 , 000 years old , is Some non-figurative art from up to 51,800 years ago was also discovered in the caves , leading the researchers to conclude humans starting making art in

The oldest known cave painting is a red hand stencil in Maltravieso cave , Cáceres, Spain. Sometimes the approximate date, or at least , an epoch, can be surmised from the painting content, contextual Cave painting at the Tassili n'Ajjer UNESCO World Heritage Site in southeast Algeria.

The style of painting in the Borneo caves is very similar to the paintings of a babirusa or "pig deer" — previously the oldest-known animal painting — in Sulawesi.

"It's not the same animal of course, but it's the same style with large bodies and small legs," he said.

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: Luc-Henri Fage The large figure in the top left is thought to be a banteng painted at least 40,000 years ago Then, at the height of the Ice Age between 20,000 and 21,000 years ago, there was a dramatic shift in stylein the Borneo cave paintings.

This phase sees a proliferation of mulberry-coloured hand stencils, many of which are filled with lines or dots.

"And sometimes those hand stencils have been drawn together with lines — it actually looks like a family tree," Dr Aubert said.

Then, human figures appear in the Borneo rock art record for the first time, around 13,600 years ago.

"It seems they transition from depicting large animals to depicting the human world," Dr Aubert said.

"Sometimes the [figures] have the large head dresses, sometimes they are portraying dancing with different objects, sometimes they're hunting."

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Figurative cave paintings from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi date to at least 35, 000 years ago (ka) and hand-stencil art from the same region has a minimum date of 40 ka. . Here we show that similar rock art was created during essentially the same time period on the adjacent island of Borneo .

Dated to at least 40 , 000 years old , the depiction of a cattle-like animal has striking similarities to ancient rock art found in other parts of the world . Hidden in a remote cave buried in the inaccessible rainforests of Indonesian Borneo , a series of rock art paintings are helping archaeologists and

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: Kinez Riza Ochre and mulberry-coloured hand stencils. He said the paintings reminded him of the enigmatic Gwion Gwion rock art in northern Australia.

"But we are not implying that it's the same people who made them," he said.

The shift from animal to human paintings seen in South-East Asia also happened in Europe, he added.

"There's more and more of the human depiction in rock art in Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum," he said.

The third wave of rock artin the Borneo caveswas created using charcoal.

"We think it is associated with the first Neolithic farmers that arrived there maybe 4,000 years ago," Dr Aubert said.

He said the changes in artistic style may have been due to different waves of people moving through the region, increases in population, or other pressures driving innovation.

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: Pindi Setiawan Human figures painted on cave wall in East Kalimantan. Rock art highlights importance of South-East Asia

Sue O'Connor, an archaeologist at the Australian National University, said the cave art in Sulawesi and Borneo is "some of the most important rock art anywhere in the world".

"They're not just single motifs, they're not just one site, they are very, very rich bodies of rock art," said Professor O'Connor, an expert in Australian and South-East Asian rock art, who was not involved in the study.

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Oldest cave painting of animal found Jump to media player Scientists spent several days trekking through rural Borneo to find the 40 , 000 - year - old Is this the world ' s longest underwater cave ? One painting found by the group is believed to depict a banteng, a South Asian wild cow, and is at

Countless caves perch atop the steep-sided mountains of East Kalimantan in Indonesia, on the island of Borneo . Draped in stone sheets and spindles The new dating analysis suggests that these images are at least 40 , 000 years old , earning them the title of the earliest figurative cave paintings yet found.

She said the similarity of art between Borneo and Sulawesi support models published by her team, suggesting modern humans may have taken a northerly route through South-East Asia to Australia at a time when Borneo was still part of the Asian mainland.

Although we don't have reliable dates for Australian art, large animals were also depicted in early art in Arnhem Land.

"We know that early naturalistic style in Arnhem Land is among the oldest art because it has got other motifs overlying it," Professor O'Connor said.

She said dates from some sites also suggest there was a shift in Australian art towards more human figures towards the end Ice Age, as sea levels suddenly rose between 9,000 and 12,000 years ago.

Darren Curnoe, a paleoanthropologist at the University of New South Wales, said the new dates confirmed the importance of South-East Asia "after many years of being neglected internationally".

Dr Curnoe was not involved in this study, but is excavating a cave at Niah on the northern side of Borneo in the Malaysian province of Sarawak.

World's oldest-known animal cave art painted at least 40,000 years ago in Borneo© Supplied: M. Aubert et al Map showing location of caves in Borneo in relation to the rest of SE Asia during the Ice Age There, he has found fragments of human bones that may be between 50,000 to 55,000 years old.

"There have been big gaps for a long time in our understanding and that just comes down to the fact that it's a vast area that is unexplored archaeologically," Dr Curnoe said.

"The more [sites] we find, the more it becomes apparent that the very earliest people living there were very modern in their behaviour," he said.

Even though they left behind thousands of images, we know nothing about the people who created the art in the East Kalimantan caves, Dr Aubert said.

"Next year we want to do excavations there to find out who those people were, and to see if we can identify this transition in the archaeology as well," he said.

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