In an article published by the journal Nature, uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits have demonstrated that the depiction of a horned animal inside a Borneo limestone cave was painted at least 40,000 years ago by an unknown artist.
Believed to have been painted a very long time ago, more than 40,000 years ago, the red-orange cave painting of a horned animal–possibly a cow or a bull–is considered now the oldest figurative drawing discovered on the surface of the planet.
Its only rival are not paintings but random carvings produced in Germany some 40,000 years ago and etched from mammoth tusks.
Created by an unknown artist, this incredible piece of art marks a gigantic step in human history as the moment that humans first started painting what they perceived around them.
Before this ancient ‘masterpiece’, scratchy, crisscross designs were painted by Neanderthals around 64,000 years ago.
This cave paintings, say, researchers, are also the oldest known representation of an animal painted in two dimensions.
Furthermore, the horned animal appears to have a spear hanging on its side, which means that this is also the earliest depiction of an animal being hunted by man.
The ancient piece of art was discovered in a limestone cave in Borneo’s East Kalimantan province.
“…to our knowledge is currently the oldest date for figurative artwork from anywhere in the world,” wrote Professor Maxime Aubert of Griffith University in the scientific paper published in the prestigious journal Nature.
How did they date the painting?
With the help of advanced methods that are able to measure radioactive decay, scientists dated the limestone crus that have overgrown the art. This allowed them to provide an estimate minimum age of the art found beneath it.
Samples taken from the Borneo cave in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan region also dated two red-orange hand stencils at 37,200 years old, and a third possibly as old as 52,000 years, scientists explained.
“The oldest cave art image we dated is a large painting of an unidentified animal, probably a species of wild cattle still found in the jungles of Borneo – this has a minimum age of around 40,000 years and is now the earliest known figurative artwork.”
“Who the ice age artists of Borneo were and what happened to them is a mystery,” said team co-leader D.r Pindi Setiwaan, an Indonesian archaeologist.