Cave Painting Discovered in Indonesia Is World’s Oldest Painting: 51,200 Years Old

In the cave complex of Maros-Pangkepin Leang Karampuang, in the southern part of the island of Sulawesiin Indonesiaa team of scientists has recently succeeded in dating the oldest cave painting in the world. It’s about a hunting scene (you can see the cover image, specially modified) made about 51,200 years agoin which three human figures surround an animal, probably identifiable as a pig (it could be a pig or a wild boar). cave paintings (i.e. built on rock walls, often caves, like the Italian ones in Val Camonica) are among the oldest artistic expressions produced by humanity and, to this day, the oldest known pictorial representations they came from a cave in the Borneoalways in Indonesiaand were dated to around 47,000 years ago. But how was the painting dated and what are its characteristics?

As explained on Naturethe technique used by Indonesian and Australian researchers is one of the most modern available to researchers, the LA-U imaging (laser ablation uranium). Across the decay of theuranium present in the deposits of limestone which are formed through the percolation of water on the rock walls, it has been possible to estimate with good precision the time of the creation of the Leang Karampuang paintings.

Through this highly advanced technique, it was possible to estimate how the cave painting depicting human figures and the pig was made at least 51,200 years agoand it is therefore older than 4,000 years compared to other known paintings in Indonesia. To make you understand the importance of the discovery and the antiquity of the paintings, know that the narrative representations most famous prehistoric figurativeEuropethose of the caves of Lascaux in France and of Altamira in Spain, they date back to “just” 17,000 years ago.


The extraordinary nature of the discovery lies not only in the antiquity of the painting, but also in the subjectThe scene depicted is storytellingor a scene that through some Images he wants to tell us a event or one succession of events. This highlights the ability of Paleolithic men to express themselves through art. complex concepts such as stories or mythsand how these could be transmitted over time, precisely through the support of images.