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Cave painting – Shanmugam IAS Academy
Cave painting


What’s in news?

A painting discovered on the wall of an Indonesian cave has been found to be the oldest painting in the world.

Key data’s:

  • Discovery: A team of researchers from Australia and Indonesia, found the oldest cave painting and the study was published in the “Journal Nature”.
  • Depicts: The cave painting which depicts human-like figures hunting animals.
  • Age: The limestone cave painting which was discovered in 2017, found to be the oldest painting in the world i.e. 44,000 years old.
  • Previous record: Prior to this limestone cave art the oldest painting was to about 20,000 years ago which was found rock art showing a character with the characteristics of an animal had been an ivory sculpture found in a cave in Germany.
  • Location: Sulawesi Island, Indonesia.
  • Method: The methodology used to find the age of the painting was “Uranium-series analysis”. Measuring the radioactive decay of uranium and other elements in the deposits gave dates ranging from 35,100 to 43,900 years as a minimum age for the Sulawesi discovery. 

About the painting:

  • The cave painting depicts the scene of therianthropes – means humans with animal characteristics chasing to kill six animals (two Sulawesi warty pigs and four anoas, a dwarf buffaloes).
  • The weapons used to kill the animals were spears and ropes.
  • This Indonesian cave painting also provided some of the earliest evidence of human spirituality.
  • The cave art in Sulawesi was first discovered in the 1950s, with at least 242 caves and shelters containing such imagery documented since.

Cave paintings and India:

  • The cave painting in India dated back to the pre-historic time since there were no buildings at that time.
  • Eg: Murals of Ajanta, Ellora, Bagh, Sittanavasal, Ajanta Paintings, Bagh Paintings, etc,

Bagh Paintings:

  • The paintings on the Bagh caves which is located on the banks of Bagh River – dated back to period between 5th and 7th century – represent the mast exquisite traditions of Indian art form

Sittanavasal Paintings:

  • Sittanavasal is the site of an ancient Jain Monastery located in Trichy.
  • Most of these cave paintings are based on the Pandyan period of the 9th century.
  • The themes of these paintings include animals, fish, ducks, people collecting lotuses from a pond, two dancing figures, etc.
  • The ceiling of the Ardhamandapam is adorned with murals from the 7th century.
  • The inscriptions which dated back to the period between 9th and 10th century also found in this site.


Links to note:

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