Dated to a remarkable 45,500 years ago, the painting is of a Sulawesi warty pig, a species hunted and depicted often in Sulawesi cave art from the Last Glacial Period.
The discovery definitively knocks out Europe and establishes that the Indo-Pacific is the center of the first-known developments in artistic expression and perhaps even story-telling.
“The cave is in a valley that’s enclosed by steep limestone cliffs and is only accessible by a narrow cave passage in the dry season, as the valley floor is completely flooded in the wet,” said Prof. Adam Brumm, co-leader of the expedition that consisted of researchers from both Indonesia’s highest center for archaeology (ARKENA), and Griffith’s Research Center for Human Evolution.
Measuring 53 inches by 21 inches (136cm by 54cm), the pig is accompanied by two human handprints just above its hindquarters, and a pair of pigs off to the right which are only partially visible.
“The pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs,” said Brumm.