Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest known cave art and jewelry in Indonesia. Dating back to a prehistoric ice age, these trinkets and pieces of art are roughly 40,000 to 22,000 years old.
Moreover, in research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, the archaeology team states that these prehistoric examples of art reveal the ways in which humanity’s sense of spirituality shifted on its journey across the world.
“[E]arly inhabitants of Sulawesi fashioned ornaments from body parts of endemic animals, suggesting modern humans integrated exotic faunas and other novel resources into their symbolic world as they colonized the biogeographically unique regions southeast of continental Eurasia,” the researchers wrote. “Elements of the complex human-animal spiritual relationships that define Aboriginal cultures may actually pre-date the initial colonization of Australia.”
“Scientists have long been curious about the cultural lives of the first Homo sapiens to inhabit the lands to the immediate north of Australia sometime prior to 50,000 years ago — part of the great movement of our species out of Africa,” Adam Brumm, a study co-author and an Australian Research Council (ARC) fellow, said in a news release.
“The discovery of ornaments manufactured from the bones and teeth of two of Sulawesi’s flagship endemics – babirusas and bear cuscuses – and a previously recorded painting of a babirusa dated to at least 35,400 years ago, shows that humans were drawn to these dramatically new faunal species,” Brumm added. “This may indicate that the conceptual world of these people changed to incorporate exotic animals.”
This spiritual fascination with new species may have been what drew the prehistoric humans further down the island chain before eventually settling in Australia.
Next, read up on the North African youth that vandalized an 8,000-year-old piece of rock art, before finding out what ancient South Americans used their newly unearthed special combs for.