Paintings of animals that date back at least 45,000 years was found in a cave in Indonesia.

The paintings of three pigs, along with a number of hand stencils, were discovered in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Local people were not aware of the cave sites’ existence, until Adam Brumm and his team from Griffith University Australia discovered them in 2017.

“I was struck dumb,” Brumm said. “It’s one of the most spectacular and well-preserved figurative animal paintings known from the whole region and it just immediately blew me away.”

The island is known to contain some of the world’s oldest cave art, but the new paintings may suggest that it may predate those previously discovered.

The researchers used uranium-series dating, which is a technique used to analyze the mineral formation that overlapped part of the image that must have formed after the cave art was produced. Their findings suggest the mineral formation is at least 45,500 years old, noting that the artwork itself could be older.

“It adds to the evidence that the first modern human cave art traditions did not arise in ice age Europe, as long assumed, but at an earlier point in the human journey,” Brumm added.

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