A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said.
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