What we thought was the center of ancient cave art, Spain’s El Castillo cave, may have not been the only abstract work happening at the time. Recently, there has been a cave found in Sulawesi that has been determined to have among the oldest of cave paintings.
Cave paintings are not as eurocentric as we believed. Both of these places are believed to have started this approximately 40,000 years ago.
The study found focuses on 14 paintings, 2 of which depict animals, a pig and a “pig-deer.” The 12 other paintings are simply stencils of hand prints all over the cave walls made using a pigment called red ochre.
Photo Maxime Aubert
So who are these people that created this? According to National Geographic, this might be the work of people who migrated from Africa to Indonesia. They were hunter-gatherers and had access to stone tools.
These cave paintings were not recently found, in fact, it has been decades, but they have picked up methods to prove how old they really are. However, this was using the method to date the minerals coating the image, meaning it could very well be even older. It seems as if hand tracings were common, having found some in caves in Spain, Argentina,
The cause for these paintings are unknown, but it makes us think how our ability to create abstract work such as this is what separates us from other animals.