The Painting on the Wall

Image from Altamira Cave by Jane from Pixabay.

Happy Tuesday, Friends.

In COVID news, the US continues to add over 200,000 new diagnoses every day and worldwide, over 94 Million people have been diagnosed with COVID.

Hmmm.  That’s a lot, so forgive me while I go find something a little more cheerful to write about like….

Recently, scientists have discovered a cave painting of a pig in Indonesia that may be over 45,000 years old.

Think about this:  some long ago ancestor ground up some pigment, added water and drew what is currently the oldest known example of cave art in the world.  The Indonesia painting predates the Lascaux cave drawings by about 28,000 years and the Altamira cave art by almost 10,000 years.

This finding is interesting to me because it’s concrete evidence for just how deep seated and enduring the human need to create is.  Why did/do humans make art?  An interesting blog post from 2017 in Psychology Today discusses several theories, including:

  1. Art is about beauty and expressing beauty
  2. It can help recall past events or emotions
  3. Art can aid in communication and education

Why did this long-ago artist create that exact painting?  Were they celebrating and documenting a successful hunt?  Perhaps they were leaving a message to others in their community (come here for good hunting)?  Or maybe they painted for any of a hundred other reasons.  We’ll never know.

But, to me, knowing that people 50,000 years ago were communicating and creating art much like we do today is comforting – because just maybe thousands of years from now some distant descendant will find themselves marveling at the Sistine Chapel or a piece of art that has yet to be created.

Next week, I’ll go into the science of how the age of the cave painting was determined.


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