Earliest Narrative Cave Art Discovered in Sulawesi: A 51,200-Year-Old Marvel

A groundbreaking discovery in Sulawesi, Indonesia, has unveiled the oldest known narrative cave art, dating back at least 51,200 years. This revelation, published in the journal Nature, not only rewrites the timeline of human artistic expression but also showcases the advanced storytelling abilities of our ancient ancestors.

Unveiling the Ancient Artwork

In the Maros-Pangkep region of Sulawesi, researchers have identified a cave painting featuring human-like figures interacting with a wild pig. The depiction of these scenes suggests a level of sophistication in early human culture previously unrecognized.

“Our discovery suggests that storytelling was a much older part of human history… than previously thought,” study co-author archaeologist Adam Brumm told a press conference, reported Phys.org.

Using a novel dating method, scientists have provided a more accurate age for this artwork, pushing back previous estimates by at least 5,700 years. This finding suggests that early humans were creating complex narrative scenes much earlier than previously thought.

The Challenge of Dating Prehistoric Art

Dating prehistoric rock art accurately has long been a challenge for archaeologists. Traditional methods, like the solution-based uranium-series technique, involve analyzing calcium carbonate deposits that naturally form on top of cave paintings. By measuring the radioactive decay of uranium into thorium within these deposits, researchers can…

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