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One Of The Oldest Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in The Borneo Cave

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Archeologists found an ancient cave hidden in the rainforests of Borneo, Indonesia. They discovered rock art paintings inside the cave that indicate that the very first humans drew the paintings. 

Many caves sit atop the steep-sided mountains in Indonesia, on the island of Borneo. These natural limestone cathedrals display geology at its best. But tucked within the earth is something even more spectacular: a vast and ancient gallery of cave art.

The paintings were used to decorate stone walls with images of the ancient world they lived in. ‘Lubang Jeriji Saléh’ is the name of the cave where they discovered these amazing paintings.

The oldest among those paintings is the one of a large wild cattle-like beast whose kind might still be roaming in the local forest. According to archeologists, the painting has been dated 40,000 years old and was most possibly created 51,800 years ago. This would make the painting the oldest known example of figurative cave art. 

The paintings portray objects belonging to the real world instead of abstract designs. Scientists became aware of these ancient caves in the mid-1990s. Ever since then, they have discovered hundreds of ancient images consisting of hand stencils, abstract designs, animal figures, and human figures. 

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Because of the lack of human habitation in the area, the paintings aren’t seen or studied frequently. 

It is useful to study these paintings because they are like a window into the past. The images enable you to see how ancient people lived their life, and the figures on the walls talk to you about their stories. 

Although a painting of a rhino in France’s Chauvet Cave was considered the oldest figurative art, a cave art of stenciled handprints and a large pig-like animal from the same time period was found in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

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Although not much is known about the people who made the art, research has indicated that Homo sapiens landed in Southeast Asia between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. Yet, the researchers said they could not definitively conclude that the artwork is the handiwork of cognitively modern humans, which was the most likely explanation.

It was a remarkable finding that indicated that cave art was practiced in Europe as well as Southeast Asia during the same time period. Who knows what else is hidden deep inside the heart of places such as Borneo, waiting to be found? 

You may ask, what did cavemen use to write on walls?

Prehistoric painters utilized the pigments available in the environment. They were the so-called earth pigments like minerals limonite and hematite, red ochre, yellow ochre, and umber, charcoal from the fire, burnt bones, and white from grounded calcite.

Why did cave dwellers make art?

It’s possible that cave dwellers chose animals to decorate the cave because they were essential to their existence. Another theory is that prehistoric man used the paintings of animals on the walls of caves to document their hunting expeditions. What do you think?

Featured image is a screenshot of the YouTube video.

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