The Oldest Human-Made Drawing was Discovered in a Borneo Cave


The oldest drawing that was made by a man has been discovered in a Borneo cave. It depicts a strange cow beast at researchers concluded that it is approximately 40.000 years old.

The recent discovery has changed an established staple, since many researchers believed that figurative cave art, one of the first innovations that paved the way to mare complicated works, began in Europe. It seems that the origin can be found in Southeast Asia and it took place during the last ice age.

Drawing animals may have been used as a first step in order to illustrate spoken stories that were part of a culture which focused primarily on hunting. A first, they painted large animals. These were later followed by paintings that depicted other elements of the human tradition.

The Borneo paintings where found inside several secluded caves that are located in the East Kalimantan province. The drawings were first identified back in 1994, but the researchers didn’t know when they were created. Several paintings cover the limestone walls, offering an impressive glimpse of how primitive art looked like.

In order to track down the period when the drawings were made the researchers collected samples of calcium carbonate. As water infiltrates through limestone, it draws a small quantity of uranium. Decaying uranium turns into thorium and researchers can track the evolution process in order to create a timeline by using a process called uranium-series dating. This allowed researchers to estimate the approximate age of the paintings.

The oldest painting that was found seems to be at least 40.000 years old. It depicts a species of wild cattle called banteng, which can still be found today, and an oversized cow that remains elusive. 20.000 years later the focus shifted to human activities as elaborate silhouettes started to appear.

Researchers are trying to find out if the paintings were made by different groups during different periods, or if they evolved naturally along with the society.


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