Figurative painting is wild cattle, part of a large panel with three large images on animals. The pigment comes from iron oxide or district, which gives the image a reddish orange shade.
Uranium with small samples of limestone bark above art dates 40,000 years ago. The paintings were found in the province of Borneo in eastern Kalimantan, where the limestone caves contain thousands of arts from the arts. This picture, like many others, was found in the cave of Lubang Jeriah Saleh.
Forty thousand years ago, Borneo was not an island but part of continental Asia when the sea levels were lower, researchers said.
The cave also contains handmade matrices in the first ocher phase, the second stage of wise handwriting patterns, with complex motifs and people, and the third phase of human figures, ships and geometric designs. Red-orange and violet pigments have an identical composition of minerals, researchers say, so they believe that all of this was originally purple and shifted over time.
"We believe that the first phase of the image focusing on red large animal images and manual matrices began between 40,000 and 52,000 years, and it is possible to last until [ice age] 20,000 years ago, "wrote Makime Aubert, the author of the study and associate professor at Griffith University in Australia, and then wrote a second phase of rock art with a focus on showing the human world. We do not know if they are from two different groups of people or if they represent evolution of a certain culture ".
Ice caves in the caves
The research team also discovered the 35,000-year-old figurative animal cave and the 40,000-year-old handmade matrix in Sulawesi, located between Asia and Australia.
Figurative art is a sign of this period in human history. "Figurative art developed in Southeast Asia at the same time as in Europe," said Aubert. "Art is also changing roughly at the same time. In the beginning people made figurative painting of large animals and later began to show the human world."
So what does that tell us about the people who lived in that area at that time? Although people arrived in Southeast Asia between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago, no art was revealed until then. In Europe, art occurs simultaneously when modern people arrive there.
This creates many theories. Perhaps this art has not yet been found or has been given, or there have been different waves of human migration – or dates of earliest arrivals of people in Southeast Asia and Australia are wrong, said Aubert. Populations could also be developed later, between 40,000 and 50,000 years.
Or perhaps the art itself is "embroidered", so it is said, traveling from place to place and starting at different stages when people learned art. This could also cause art stages, from showing animals to humans. Although human characters in rock art are common, they are rare in early art, said Aubert.
The climate can also be a factor, with an increase in the time when art is discovered when conditions were more favorable to people, said Aubert. All this is possible, but for now, the artists themselves remain a mystery.
Treacherous trek to the cave
Although the images were found in 1994, researchers could not reach them until now.
The images were high on the walls and ceilings of the caves, contrasting with black drawings in more accessible areas of the cave, said Aubert.
The discovery of calcite at the top of the images was crucial because researchers dated when they were formed, as opposed to real pigments. Formulations of calcite when the rainwater spills through the limestone, dissolving a small amount of uranium. Uranium decays by time, creating the element of thorium, and measuring the relationship of one element to another reveals the age of the coating, said Aubert.
The achievement of cave art was vague, requiring researchers to go across the river, and then four days pass through the thick jungle before climbing up. They travel by lights, sleeping in hangers and staying in the cave for about two months. Their main source of water is what dives from stalagmites, Aubert said.
The cave opens into the pristine valley of the bells of orangutans and birds, and the smell of Durian fruit is heavy in the air. Tiger prints appear on the forest floor as well as occasional cobra.
It is not known if there are human remains in the cave itself.
"We are planning archaeological excavations in these caves to find more information about these unknown artists," said Aubert. This excavation will take place next year. "We also want to preserve more art skills in order to improve the minimum and maximum age for each style, as well as how long they last."
The researchers will conduct an investigation in Borneo and Sulavesi.
However, cave art is a very important part of the understanding of ancient people.
"It's an intimate window into the past," said Aubert. "Just so, most of what we know about our deep past is from archaeological digs and we usually found the things that people left behind – essentially their waste. Rock art is designed for purpose and we see how people have long lived the way in which archeology can not secure it. It's as if they are still talking to us today. "