Archaeologists Uncovered Pocket-Sized Rock Art
Mon, April 19, 2021

Archaeologists Uncovered Pocket-Sized Rock Art


Previous studies showed that humans’ ability for complex artistic expression evolved exclusively in Europe. However, a recent discovery of the first portable engravings in Southeast Asia debunks this old notion. The two stone “plaquettes” were unearthed in Leang Bulu Bettue cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi between 2017 and 2018. These artifacts are the first recorded figurative art pieces in the country, suggesting “there were similar cognitive and artistic responses to the natural world made by modern humans in the Pleistocene in different parts of the world.”


Credits: Cosmos Magazine


A recent study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior showed that the two artifacts are thought to be between 14,000 and 26,000 years old, placing the date of their creation not long before the end of the most recent ice age. The first plaquette has a head and upper body of a small buffalo native to the region called anoa. The animal also appeared in cave art painted onto rock walls as far back as 44,000 years ago. This only proved that they served as fodder for hunter-gatherers’ food and tools thousands of years ago and played an important role in their daily existence. 


Credits: Smithsonian Mag


The other plaquette, meanwhile, was described as a sunburst because it shows a vaguely hexagonal figure sprouting rays, limbs, petals and perhaps even eyelashes that were once streaked with red pigment. According to Smithsonian Mag, the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the archaeologists also discovered other artifacts in the cave such as stone tools, burnt and butchered animal remains, and bits of body ornamentation.


Credits: Smithsonian Mag


Study author Michelle Langley of Griffith University stated that these artifacts were people’s way of maintaining cultural connections with both animate and inanimate objects across great distances. They see fashioned and tailored objects as if they could hold emotional value too. “With more discoveries going on over this side of the world, we’re finding that’s definitely not the case. People were doing [art] over here at the same time or earlier. We just hadn’t been looking,” Langley said. 




Grazielle Sarical

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