Sulawesi, Amazing Cave Art, Indonesia discussed on BBC Newshour


Is something deeply moving about cave paintings. The purpose of them is not always known, but the notion of making art of being creative of leaving something behind. In an age when she had day to day Survival tells us something about the act. Stunning paintings discovered in difficult to reach caves in Indonesia include what might be the oldest depictions of animals on the planet dating back 45,000 years. Adam Brum is an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia and a co author of the study that stated the pictures. The painting we've dated is a painting of a pig. The pigment that they used was a type of red Oka. And then they've painted this beautiful life size image of a pig. Certain top of pig only found on Sulawesi known as a warty pig. And it's all in red. And it's just this beautiful fat, very jolly looking pig. And then there's two hand stencils to images of human hands just behind the hind quarters of this pig. And then this image itself is part of the largest scene, which depicts it least three and possibly for wild pigs engaged in some sort of social interaction. You describe. It is beautiful. I mean, is it something that surprised you when you first saw it? Yeah, We've seen lots of these ice, a general paintings and Sulawesi and some of them They can almost have a cartoonish quality to them like they're anatomically realistic, but it's like there's variations I possibly in the skill and the talent of the artist who created These artworks, But you know, this one is what I would call exquisite. It's really beautiful. I mean, look, that's a very subjective term. And also, you know, there's a lot of bias on my part because I think all of the rock out of this part of the world is beautiful. But this is I think when you look together with the completeness, almost the loving detail they put into rendering the shape in the form of the animal that little dainty little trotters. The two facial wards protruding up from the snout area. To me, it's a real work of art always than one. How significant is the finding of this study that the paintings or at least 45,000 years old? If you look at it in terms of conventional story or the orthodoxy that has bean the textbook explanation for how the first cave art arose. Most of the story is always focused on on Europe and the amazing cave art that we find in the ice age world of France and Spain. This is some of the most sublime artworks that in my opinion humanity's ever produced, But the story's always being that this is where the first cave art evolved 40,000 years ago or so, But you know, when you're finding these older examples of broadly similar art on the other side of the world in the ice edge tropics of Indonesia, the story becomes a little bit more complicated. I think what it is showing at least my idea, Possibly when you know, I think it's an idea that a lot of archaeologists are now coming around to. It could be that this ability to create this Amazing cave Art is very ancient and goes back to an earlier period in human history, possibly before our species even left Africa. Explain how what science was used to determine the age of this heart. Rock art is very difficult today. Now in this particular case were quite fortunate because the rock out was made within a limestone cave inside that limestone cave. We had these little mineral deposits forming on the on the walls of the cave. And in this particular case, one of them developed over the real leg of the pig painting and were able to date when that calcite began to form or less. So then we know that that artwork has been in existence on the cable at least 45,500 years ago, it could be much older. For all we know. All we have is a minimum age for it, which obviously, you know when it comes to this sort of story telling is exceptionally useful to us. There is also some discussion about whether homos SAPIENs or another human species made these paintings just reflect for us on on what you're thinking is Believe me, if I could make the case that this was made by a relic population of Homo erectus or something that somehow was summarily species of human that, you know, became marooned on Sulawesi and was spent its time creating these amazing outworks, then Yeah, I would very much love toe. Tell that story but I think the most straightforward story is that these works of art were created by people with minds with the capacity to create art that we share today that we all share that all humans share. I think this is our species. We don't have any other evidence elsewhere in the world Foot earlier, now extinct types of humans making Is representational art their claims in Spain. It's the rock up made by Neanderthals going back to 65,000 years ago. These consists of these images of human hands, which again I created by someone placing their hand against the cave wall and then sprang a mouthful of paint around it, leaving the image of the human hand when they remove it, but we're not seeing so far. Any evidence for these people, creating a lifelike images off subjects on objects that they saw in the world around them. Given how hard it is to reach some of these caves in Sulawesi, do you sometimes imagine that there is more evidence of human habitation is yet to be discovered, and perhaps more art. Absolutely, without any doubt there is we have these limestone hills that it just riddle little levels with cave networks that most of them have never been explored before the outside of the hills and completely covered with vegetation. Some of these caves of literally impossible to spot from the ground. You just have to rely on local information and just climb up through the most inaccessible. Undergrowth and and hope to find the cave passage and find your way in there. Just absolutely just year after year. We just keep finding more and more cave. You just keep finding out. This is just everywhere. Exciting hurts one of my favorite stories today. Adam Brown from Griffith University in Australia. If you'd like to tell us what you think about what you hear on our program at BBC World Service is the networks Twitter handle at Razik Body is mine. If you'd like to speak to me directly, don't go wait. That's coming up in the second half off the program today, including looking at the aftermath off the.

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