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January 22, 2021, 03.07 PM

Members of the Bugis community, who live in the area, told Brumm that outsiders had never seen it before.

Ice Age companions

"Humans have hunted Sulawesi warty pigs for thousands of years," said Burhan, whose team discovered the painting. The beasts also feature in artworks created during the Ice Age.

Archaeologists identified a calcite deposit, known as "cave popcorn" in expert parlance, formed on the top of the painting, and used Uranium-series isotope dating to confirm that it was 45,500 years old.

However, dating expert Maxime Aubert said, "the painting could be much older because the dating that we're using only dates the calcite on top of it."

Also read: Indonesia's Toba Caldera Recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark

"The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked," she added.

The oldest-known cave painting before the discovery of the pig was also found in Sulawesi by the same team. It showed part-human part-animal figures hunting and was around 43,900 years old.

Cave paintings such as these could provide important insights about human migration during the time, experts say, especially since it is unknown how humans reached the Australian continent 65,000 years ago.

"Our species must have crossed through Wallacea by watercraft," Aubert said, referring to the Indonesian islands. "However, the Wallacean islands are poorly explored and presently the earliest excavated archaeological evidence from this region is much younger in age."


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