World’s oldest cave art dating back more than 51,000 years is discovered – but can you make out all the people?

THE OLDEST evidence of storytelling cave art has been discovered dating back more than 51,000 years.

Experts were stunned to find the figurative cave painting on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.

Cave art dates back 51,000 years


Cave art dates back 51,000 yearsCredit: AFP

It appears to depicts a big red pig and a group of people – but can you make out how many?

“This is the oldest evidence of storytelling,” Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist at Australia‘s Griffith University, told AFP.

The discovery marks the first time the 50,000-year barrier has been passed, researchers say in the Nature journal.

Aubert was involved in the last record holder from 2019, which showed a hunting scene estimated to be nearly 44,000 years-old.

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“It’s probably just a matter of time before we find samples that are older,” he added.

Scientists were able to carefully reveal the fascinating illustration using a new laser technique.

Together with sophisticated computer software they were able to create a “map” of rock samples.

This laser technique is more precise, easier, quicker, cheaper, and requires much smaller rock samples than the previous uranium series method.

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“Our discovery suggests that storytelling was a much older part of human history… than previously thought,” study co-author archaeologist Adam Brumm told a press conference.

The image could rewrite our understanding of human cognitive evolution.

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However, researchers admit we don’t quite know what they’re doing in the artwork.

Aubert believes the paintings were probably created by the first group of humans who moved through Southeast Asia before arriving in Australia around 65,000 years ago.

The first images known to have been made by humans are simple lines and patterns made in ochre found in South Africa dating back 100,000 years.

But then there is a “huge gap” in human art until the Indonesian cave paintings 50,000 years later.

“The question is, why is it not everywhere?” Aubert said.

One theory is that artwork elsewhere did not survive all those millennia.


Another is that ancient art could still be out there waiting to be discovered.

And if you’re wondering how many people are shown in the art, it is three – see the image below to find out where they’re located.

Did you make them all out?


Did you make them all out?

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