Sci­en­tists un­cover an­cient bull draw­ing

In­done­sian cave art is 40,000 years old

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Nation & World - By Christina Lar­son As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Sci­en­tists have found the old­est known ex­am­ple of an an­i­mal draw­ing: a red sil­hou­ette of a bull-like beast on the wall of an In­done­sian cave.

The sketch is at least 40,000 years old, slightly older than sim­i­lar an­i­mal paint­ings found in caves in France and Spain. Un­til a few years ago, ex­perts be­lieved Europe was where our an­ces­tors started draw­ing an­i­mals and other fig­ures.

But the age of the draw­ing re­ported in the jour­nal Na­ture, along with pre­vi­ous dis­cov­er­ies in South­east Asia, sug­gest that fig­u­ra­tive draw­ing ap­peared in both con­ti­nents about the same time.

The new find­ings fuel dis­cus­sions about whether his­tor­i­cal or evo­lu­tion­ary events prompted this near- si­mul­ta­ne­ous “burst of hu­man cre­ativ­ity,” said lead au­thor Maxime Au­bert, an ar­chae­ol­o­gist and geo­chemist at Grif­fith Univer­sity in Aus­tralia.

The re­mote lime­stone caves on Bor­neo have been known to con­tain pre­his­toric draw­ings since the 1990s. To reach them, Au­bert and his team used ma­chetes to hack through thick jun­gle in a ver­dant cor­ner of the is­land.

Au­bert and his fel­low re­searchers re­ported in 2014 on cave art from the neigh­bor­ing In­done­sian is­land of Su­lawesi. They dated hand sten­cils, cre­ated by blow­ing red dye through a tube to cap­ture the out­line of a hand pressed against rock, to al­most 40,000 years ago.

Now, with the Bor­neo cave art, the sci­en­tists are able to con­struct a rough time­line of how art de­vel­oped in the area. In ad­di­tion to the bull, which is about 5 feet wide, they dated redand pur­ple-col­ored hand sten­cils and cave paint­ings of hu­man scenes.

LUC-HENRI FAGE/KALIMANTHROPE.COM

A com­pos­ite im­age from the book “Bor­neo, Mem­ory of the Caves” shows the world’s old­est fig­u­ra­tive art­work.

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