World's Oldest Cave Art Discovered in Indonesia

World's Oldest Cave Art Discovered in Indonesia
Above: The 40K-year-old animal-shaped painting considered one of the oldest cave art on earth, discovered in caves hidden in a remote mountainous area on the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula, is seen in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Image copyright: Wikimedia Commons

The Facts

  • Australian and Indonesian researchers have discovered what is thought to be the oldest known figurative art painting, dating back at least 51K years — over 5K years older than the previous oldest cave art.

  • Found in the Leang Karampuang cave in the Maros-Pangkep region of South Sulawesi, the 36-inch by 15-inch artwork depicts three human-like figures surrounding a large warty pig in a single dark red color.


The Spin

Narrative A

The discovered cave art is the latest evidence that modern humans developed advanced mental abilities much earlier than previously thought. Archaeology has been very Eurocentric, but new and unbiased research methods now prove that even figurative art didn't originate in Europe. Deciphering the past is the key to understanding the present and shaping the future, and further archeological discoveries are waiting to change our understanding of human history.

Narrative B

Such discoveries are fascinating and the result of rigorous archaeological work employing modern technology and more accurate dating techniques. However, the involved scientists provided no proof of their claim of having found the oldest depiction of narrative art in Indonesia, and to this day, the oldest cave art is found in Spain. Wishful thinking isn't science, and more research is needed to unravel the rich human culture of storytelling and the evolution of the human mind.


Metaculus Prediction


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