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The world’s oldest representation of animals discovered: it is a portrait of a pig

AA Oktaviana, ARKENAS / Griffith University

Archaeologists keep discovering finds from times long past. In this way you can reconstruct how people lived hundreds and thousands of years ago. Scientists have now found an animal painting on a rock wall – it is the oldest known animal picture in the world.

The cave painting, which was recently found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, shows several pigs, most likely Sulawesi pustular pigs that still live on the island today. One of the pig drawings is still very well preserved, it is 136 centimeters long and 54 centimeters high. The two other images can no longer be fully recognized. Maybe there are four pigs in total. You can also see two human hands.

AA Oktaviana, ARKENAS / Griffith University

In their study, which was published in the journal “Science Advances”, the researchers come to the conclusion that the painting is at least 45,500 years old. “This rock painting is the oldest known and clearly dated work of art in Sulawesi,” they write. And: It is also probably the oldest representation of animals in the world.

So far, rock paintings in Southeast Asia were considered the oldest pictures of animals, as “ScienXX” reports. These are around 40,000 years old. To find out how old the pig painting is in Sulawesi, the researchers took samples of lime crystals in the paint and analyzed them. So they could determine the minimum age of the painting.

The painted pig species still lives on the island today.

The painted pig species still lives on the island today.

getty images

The island of Sulawesi is located in Indonesia, north of Australia. It is not yet fully clear when the first “anatomically modern” people settled there, write the authors of the study. “Anatomically modern” means that it is the early and original species of Homo sapiens. When these people lived on Sulawesi is still being investigated – the found painting could now be of great help to archaeologists in narrowing down the time.

“We cannot clearly prove that the rock art from Leang Tedongnge was the work of cognitively ‘modern’ representatives of our species,” the researchers write. “But it would be the most likely explanation, given how skillfully these early representative displays are.”

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