Oldest cave art found in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Warty pig (Sus celebensis), c. 43,900 B.C.E., painted with ocher (clay pigment), Maros-Pangkep caves, Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

A team of Griffith University archaeologists has shared in the discovery of what may be the world’s oldest known cave painting, dating back to at least 45,500 years ago.

Uncovered in South Sulawesi (in the Maros-Pangkep caves on Indonesia) during field research conducted with Indonesia’s leading archaeological research centre, Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional (ARKENAS), the cave painting consists of a figurative depiction of a Sulawesi warty pig, a wild boar that is endemic to this Indonesian island.

“The Sulawesi warty pig painting we found in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge is now the earliest known representational work of art in the world, as far as are aware,” said Professor Adam Brumm from Griffith’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, co-leader of the Griffith-ARKENAS team.


A team of archaeologists led by Griffith University has discovered a cave painting in Indonesia that is at least 44,000 years old and which portrays a group of part-human, part-animal figures – ‘therianthropes’ – hunting large mammals with spears or ropes, casting new light on the origin of modern human cognition.


Cite this page as: Griffith University, "Oldest cave art found in Sulawesi, Indonesia," in Smarthistory, January 13, 2021, accessed May 18, 2024, https://smarthistory.org/oldest-cave-art-found-in-sulawesi/.