Cave paintings challenge Europe as cradle of art

2014-10-09 11:41
Hand stencils marking a cave wall in Maros karsts on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. (Kinez Riza, AFP)

Hand stencils marking a cave wall in Maros karsts on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. (Kinez Riza, AFP)

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Paris - The silhouette of a hand on a cave wall in Indonesia is 40 000 years old, showing that Europe was not the birthplace of art as long believed, researchers said on Wednesday.

Created by spraying reddish paint around an open hand pressed against rock, the stencil was made at about the same time as early humans were leaving artwork on cave walls around Europe that was long thought to be the first in the world.

In the same cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a painting of a pig was dated to about 35 000 years ago, the Indonesian and Australian team..

The discovery, they said, throws up two theories, both of which challenge the conventional wisdom around the history of human artistic expression.

Art either arose independently but simultaneously in different parts of the world, or was brought by Homo sapiens when he left Africa for a worldwide odyssey.

"Europeans can't exclusively claim to be the first to develop an abstract mind anymore", Anthony Dosseto of Australia's University of Wollongong said in a statement.

"They need to share this, at least, with the early inhabitants of Indonesia."

Anthropologists consider rock art to be an indicator of the onset of abstract thinking, the ability to reflect on ideas and events.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  archaeology

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