Archaeologists Find 45,500-Year-Old Pig Painting in Indonesian Cave – ARTnews.com
While the enthusiasm for contemporary figurative painting continues in the art world, archaeologists have discovered what is perhaps the oldest figurative work of art in the world. In a new study published Wednesday by Science Advances, a team of experts claims that a pig painting discovered in a cave in Sulawesi, an Indonesian island, is at least 45,500 years old. This makes it the oldest known figurative work that has ever been found.
Although the painting showing a pig with a protruding belly alongside two shapes that resemble hands is of value because of its age, it is possible that there are others like this one. “However, there is no reason to assume that this early rock art is a unique example on the island of Southeast Asia or in the wider region,” the researchers note in their introduction.
The newly discovered pig image has the potential to provide historians and archaeologists with various insights. It is more than 25,000 years old than the cave paintings of various animals in Lascaux, France, which are estimated to be 20,000 years old and are among the most famous cave paintings in the world. The pig painting is also about 1,500 years older than another similar painting in Sulawesi found by researchers in 2019.
Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University, Australia who worked on the study, told the New York Times that “given the sophistication of this early figurative work of art,” the pig painting was likely done by a modern man. However, the painter’s identity remains unknown.
Brumm told the Times that Indonesian rock art is rapidly deteriorating. “It’s very worrying,” he said, “and given the current situation, the end result is likely the eventual destruction of this Ice Age Indonesian art, perhaps even during our lifetime.”