Scientists had long believed that the oldest figurative art was made in what is modern day Germany. However, a recent discovery in Borneo is throwing this long-held assumption into question. In a cave is a red drawing of an animal with a thick body and long thin legs. Its creation is being dated to about 40,000 years ago, making it the oldest figurative art ever discovered. The discovery also shows that humans were collectively making a creative transition at around the same time, even separated by continents and oceans.
According to the New York Times...
"...it's possible that people started making art in the Borneo caves sometime between 52,000 years ago and 40,000 years ago.
The new discovery indicates that people in Borneo were already making figurative images at the same time as people in Europe — or perhaps even thousands of years beforehand."
There were multiple drawings discovered within the cave complex.
Cave drawing of bull found in Borneo dates back 40,000 years, scientists say https://t.co/mtLFAShJY5 https://t.co/1kM5aWQwRe— National Post (@National Post) 1541668256.0
A rendering of the detail on this particular drawing was released.
In very un-election news, scientists have found the oldest figurative art on Earth in a Borneo cave—a picture, poss… https://t.co/p0YqBaduvt— Carl Zimmer (@Carl Zimmer) 1541613853.0
There was also this animal with antlers.
Oldest known figurative cave art discovered in Borneo. Prehistoric paintings & drawings in the mountains of East Ka… https://t.co/ncZdYsUIZ9— Bradshaw Foundation (@Bradshaw Foundation) 1541677362.0
Along with these handprints and humanoid figures.
Borneo cave discovery: is the world’s oldest rock art in Southeast Asia? https://t.co/lqPva3BBoW https://t.co/mMpkXOe28F— CARAA (@CARAA) 1541748662.0
Some wondered who made the drawings.
@carlzimmer @elakdawalla @nytimes Child? https://t.co/O7541DYqEh— sasha barrese (@sasha barrese) 1541622420.0
@NatGeo Probably just their kids drawing on the walls— Rob (@Rob) 1541873599.0
While others were more concerned with the how.
And many wondered if the technique used to date these cave paintings might be used in other areas of the world.
@carlzimmer @nytimes I’m curious to know whether there are plans to retest Ubirr in Kakadu, Australia with the flow… https://t.co/tBr5dAsyPZ— melomys 😷💉 (@melomys 😷💉) 1541619984.0
@carlzimmer @elakdawalla @nytimes We were human way before that, so there has to be older art waiting to be found.— Eugenio Arpayoglou (@Eugenio Arpayoglou) 1541624829.0
@carlzimmer @nytimes Interesting. In civilizations, @simon_schama talks about red ochre cave paintings in El Castil… https://t.co/qaWMjSeMHs— Ozyman Diaz (@Ozyman Diaz) 1541628853.0
Regardless of the how and the why, this is a major discovery!