Scientists have used one of the most reliable methods of giving to determine that the image of cattle on animals found in a cave on the island of Borneo is at least 40,000 years old, making it the earliest known part of figurative art.
Deep in the mountains of the province of East Kalimantan are distant caves among the lush rain forests. The team of researchers from Australia and Indonesia lasted for days and climbed the mountain to reach them – and noticed tiger tracks and snakes along the way.
Their goal was to determine the age of a series of images found in caves, which were discovered in the nineties.
It is believed that the art of the cave began some 50,000 years ago. First, there were lines, then manual roaring and possibly figurative art that depicts images of everyday life, such as animals and humans.
Researchers, whose conclusions were published in the journal Nature, divided the images into one cave into three categories that show the transition over time. The oldest images are red-orange images of animals, such as cattle and handicrafts; followed by colorful handmade templates and people's features; and finally, illustrations of people, boats and geometric designs of black.
Getting to know cave art has proved to be an accident. So, the team, led by Makima Aubert, who originally greeted Levis, Kue., Used a method called "dating from uranium-series".
For this purpose: the rainwater passes through the limestone and dissolves small amounts of uranium. Uranus decays, creating another element, thorium. Uranium is soluble in water, but thorium is not. Researchers can take a sample of the cave and determine the ratio of uranium to thorium, allowing them to better calculate the age of art.
The researchers found that the image of an unidentified animal, probably a species of wild cattle still on the island, is at least 40,000 years old. It is the earliest known work of the figurative art of the cave – an art that depicts a picture of real life.
Also from the same cave were handmade white dyes, including those that could be older than 51,800 years.
History of cave art
Although Europe is perhaps the most popular source of cave art, works have been found around the world.
For most of the Ice Age, Borneo formed the eastern tip of Eurasia. But after the ice began to melt and the level began to increase, it was broken and became one of the Indonesian islands.
So cave art actually appeared at the same time at different angles of what was the same continent.
"Most of what we know about how we lived in the Pleistocene is based on archeology and it's mostly human rubbish – what they left behind," said Aubert. "With the art of the cave, if we can reach it, it provides tons of information that we can not get archeology … They show their way of life and basically tell us 40,000 years later."
Vatch: Researchers explore the artistic cave in Borneo
And there's still a lot of answers.
"Who were artists of the Borneo Ice Age and what happened to them is a mystery," he said team co-leader Dr. Pindi Setiwan, Indonesian archaeologist and lecturer at the Bandung Technological Institute.
How exactly art is made is also unknown. In the case of handmade templates, researchers suspect that artists may have turned dust on the walls. And if their hack is correct, there may be traces of DNA in the district.
Aubert said they were trying to see if I could pull out any DNA, but admitted "it's a long shot."