via Quartz, 15 December 2019: Indexing another list of stories about the amazing 44,000-year-old hunting scene from Sulawesi (see previous roundups here and here). The story covered by Quartz highlights that the site (along with many other sites in the area) is in danger due to effects from nearby mining and climate change. The headline for the Quartz story is also inaccurate – it’s not the oldest cave art, just the oldest hunting scene.
But now that the art has been discovered, it’s also threatening to disappear.
For reasons that are unclear to the researchers, large chunks of the cave surfaces in the area are inexplicably “exfoliating,” they say, and the panel may not last long. The archaeologists believe that exposure to pollution—mining operations are nearby—or to increasingly extreme monsoon seasons resulting from climate change may explain why the surfaces are peeling.
“It could be one of the bitter ironies that we only just discovered the extreme antiquity of this rock art in the last few years and it could be gone within our lifetimes,” study author Adam Brumm told the Washington Post. Researchers are raising funds now to laser scan the paintings and create digital archives before it’s too late.
Puslit Arkenas (The National Archaeology Center) has a video on the YouTube Channel with more images of the rock art and the cave itself:
On a lighter note, Trevor Noah had a short segment about the discovery on his show. It’s worth a laugh:
- The world’s oldest cave art: Indonesian cave painting that shows mythical figures using spears to kill pigs was created 44,000 years ago | Daily Mail, 11 Dec 2019
- Earliest known hunting scene uncovered in cave painting | Yahoo News, 12 Dec 2019
- Indonesian cave art is earliest known record of ‘story telling’, researchers say | Reuters, 12 Dec 2019
- Rewriting history: cave painting found in Sulawesi is earliest known figurative art by modern humans | Coconuts Jakarta, 12 Dec 2019
- A 44,000-year-old mural is now the oldest example of humans telling stories with pictures. Take a look at the epic hunt it shows | Business Insider, 13 Dec 2019
- 43,900-Year-Old Cave Painting Portrays Part-Human, Part-Animal Beings | Sci-news, 13 Dec 2019
- Indonesia cave art intrigues as early storytelling | Washington Times / Northwest Arkansas Democrat Online, 15 Dec 2019