A cave painting of humans hunting animals was found on Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, and appears to be the earliest known pictorial record of story-telling, according to a study by a team of researchers.

The ancient painting, found in a limestone cave in 2017, was dated to nearly 44,000 years ago using uranium-series analysis according to Journal Nature. It depicts eight humans with animal characteristics, appearing to chase and kill six animals such as the warty pigs native to the island, using spears and ropes presumably to have for supper. Researchers describe it as a well orchestrated communal hunt.

So far the oldest rock art showing an anthropoid with the characteristics of an animal had been an ivory sculpture found in a cave in Germany. Over 40,000 years old it shows a human body attached to a feline-like head. Of course this is bound to be the work of human imagination and does not depict an actual animal.

The Sulawesi cave painting also provided some of the earliest evidence of human spirituality, according to one of the study’s co-authors, Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Australia’s Griffith University. According to him, the animals shown on the cave wall occur in folklore and are known as Therianthropes, regarded as Gods or spirits or ancestral beings.

The research was done in collaboration with Indonesia’s National Research Center for Archaeology, and scientists from culture heritage department of Makassar, the provincial capital.

Apparently the cave art in Sulawesi was first discovered in the 1950s, with at least 242 caves and shelters containing similar imagery. But the art is being threatened by salt dust and peeling and even microbes. It is therefore imperative to take steps to preserve as much of this ancient art as possible.

For more information visit: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/12/ancient-cave-art-in-indonesia-may-be-worlds-oldest-hunting-scene/