Pig art found in Indonesian cave might be one of the oldest cave paintings in history

A Pig art found in a cave on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia has been estimated to be at least 45,500 years. It is one of the oldest known artistic depictions of a real-world object or organism.


The discovery is the latest in recently emerging evidence that “the first modern human cave art traditions did not emerge in Ice Age Europe, as long supposed, but perhaps earlier in Asia or even in Africa, where our species evolved,” says study author Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

Similar paintings appear on the cave wall

Archaeologist Iain Davidson of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia says that at least two-three other partially preserved pig paintings are on the cave wall close to the newly discovered painting. All the painted pigs in the Sulawesi cave appear to be confronting each other.


Davidson added that similarly positioned, painted animals dating to roughly 30,000 years ago or more appear in scenes in France’s Chauvet Cave.

Another Sulawesi cave depicts animal drawings similar to the first cave found

In another Sulawesi cave, a large pig painting was discovered on the ceiling of a small chamber. Like the other cave, the pigs were painted in red, dark red, and purple mineral pigments that date to between 32,000 and 73,400 years ago.


Two other poorly preserved paintings of unidentified animals were found in the caves ceiling and walls. The team responsible for the findings estimates that it’s likely Homo sapiens, rather than a closely related species such as Homo floresiensis responsible for the painting on the Sulawesi cave walls.


The minimum age estimates for the pig paintings are based on measuring the rate of Uranium’s decay in cauliflower-like mineral growths that form in thin layers over and underneath parts of the cave painting.