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Animal painting found in Sulawesi cave dated to be 44,000 years old

A painting found in the caves of an Indonesian island is dated to be 44,000 years old and shows a buffalo being hunted by part-human and part-animal creature using weapons of the times and researchers think that this could be the world’s oldest recorded story.

Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith, saw the pictures 2 years ago after a colleague sent it to him.

Albeit estimating the age of the painting to be 44,000 years old, it still doesn’t make the cut for the oldest drawing our ancestors carved out in rocks. This recognition goes to a drawing on a rock, in South Africa, estimated to be 73,000 years old.

This drawing which was found in Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo, shows a panel 5 metres wide and shows a buffalo and some wild pigs, commonly found in the region.

Curiously, there are some figures in the background, though smaller than the drawings of the buffalo, that looks almost human however they have certain animal features like tail and snouts.

Mr. Brumm was fascinated by the drawing as this was the first one that represents a hunting scene however others have cast doubts if the drawing represents a single story or could be different and independent images drawn over a period of time.

How do we know the painting is 44,000 years old?

The team were able to analyze the calcite formation that had built up over the years on the painting.

It’s just calculating a simple ratio of the Uranium and Thorium in the painting as Uranium is known to decay into Thorium at a constant rate and using this they were able to estimate the age of calcite on the pig as 43,900 years old and the calcite on the buffalo as 40,900 years old.

This painting on the cave is not standalone as there are at least 242 caves in Sulawesi alone in which such imagery are found and speleologists are happy with the finds.

Though not the oldest drawing that has been found, it could be the oldest narrative through a drawing, as other such narratives have also been found in rock arts in Europe dated to be about 14,000 to 21,000 years old.

There have been other drawings found in Borneo, like the one found last year in a cave dated to be around 40,000 years old.

The findings were reported in the journal Nature by archaeologists from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

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