Researchers have recently discovered rock paintings in a remote cave located in Borneo that they claim is one the world’s oldest figurative paintings in which actual objects have been depicted instead of abstract shapes and figures. A detailed report of the discovery has been penned in Nature journal that says that the picture is almost 40,000 years old and though they are not sure about the animal in the picture it appears similar to a wild cow that lives in the region called Banteng. The researchers found these paintings in a group of caves located in the remote mountains of East Kalimantan in the Indonesian province of Borneo.
The ancient caves contain several thousand ancient paintings, carvings and other images, including hand stencils, abstract signs and symbols and images of small and large animals. According to Prof Francesco d’Errico of Bordeaux University who is an authority on prehistoric art, this is a major archeological discovery due to its large collection of paintings spread across multiple caves. Co-author of the report Maxime Aubert of Griffith University, Australia, the oldest image in the cave is that of an unidentified animal that is dated 40,000 years old and is the earliest example of figurative art.
The paintings have been made with iron-oxide pigment and shows that the animal has a spear shaft struck through its flank. Other paintings in the caves have depictions of animals and hand stencils representing oldest art phase of the cave and most of the animals are of similar stature with large bodies and small legs. The scientists used calcium carbonate deposits close to the images to date them and discovered that some of the hand stencils were made 37,000 years ago while some were made 51,800 years ago. Researchers concluded that the art in these caves in Borneo were developed between 52,000 and 40,000 years ago and while first lot was made using red-orange colors the second phase made around 16,000 to 21,000 years ago.