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Ice Age Period Art And Jewelry Discovered In Indonesia

First Posted: Apr 04, 2017 04:44 AM EDT
Sulawesi Cave Art
World's oldest cave paintings from 40,000 years ago discovered in Indonesia.
(Photo : The Telegraph/YouTube screenshot)

A unique collection of prehistoric ornaments and artworks were found in an Indonesian cave, some of which date back to at least 30,000 years. Excavators have implied that the site was used by cave artists during the Ice Age.

The Conversation reports that the findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, challenge the long-held theory that hunter-gatherer communities in the Pleistocene/Ice Age of southeast Asia were culturally impoverished. The artifacts, which were found in Sulawesi -- the largest island in Wallacea -- show that the ancient inhabitants of the area used various methods to make ornaments from the bones and teeth of possums and primitive pigs (babirusa).

Among the artifacts unearthed, there were also stone tools with geometric patterns such as leaf-like, cross motifs and geometric patterns whose meanings are obscure. Ochre pieces and bone tubes used as airbrush to create stencil effects, which are also being suggested as belonging to the Ice Age period, were discovered as well in the surrounding area.

Interestingly, all the artifacts are the same age as dated cave paintings in the area’s limestone hills. As per a report, it is quite “unusual to discover buried evidence for symbolic activity in the same places where ice age rock art is found.”

According to The Guardian, the new findings act as evidence to suggest that the Ice Age inhabitants of Wallacea had an artistic and creative bent of mind. Researchers have also proposed that Australia’s diverse aboriginal cultures could trace back their roots in the human journey through Wallacea.

Incidentally, researchers have ruled out the possibility of connecting the new discovery with “hobbits,” an ancient lineage found at the south of Sulawesi -- on the Indonesian island of Flores. At present, excavators are continuing work to gather more information and understanding about the ancient humans who lived in the area and their culture. In addition, the researchers are also looking for evidence to determine when modern humans settled in Sulawesi for the first time.

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