Europe is no longer the area of the world walls with the oldest datable figurative representations on rock. A research group led by the archaeologist and geochemist Maxime Aubert of Griffith University in the Australian state of Queensland has been presented in the current issue of the science magazine “Nature” determining the Age of cave paintings in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan on Borneo. The designs depict animals, probably a kind of wild cattle, abgepauste hand outlines as well as representations of people. Aubert and colleagues were able to analyze calcium deposits on the pigment layers to traces of uranium and its decay product Thorium and to determine the minimum age of the paintings.

Ulf von rauchhaupt

responsible for the Department of “science,” the Frankfurt General Sunday newspaper.

F. A. Z.

The researchers were able to distinguish three style phases. The youngest is of age less than 10,000 years, likely to be the work of Neolithic peoples. The middle Phase coincides with an age of 14,000 to 20,000 in the high phase of the most recent ice age, which resulted in extremely low sea level. Borneo was connected with the Rest of Eurasia and the South-Eastern most end.


The oldest, also a glacial Phase knows on Borneo, no depictions of humans, but of animals, and was dated in the cave Lubang Jeriji Saléh to at least 40,000 years. The pictures were taken before the oldest cave paintings in Europe, like those of the Grotte Chauvet in France, the earliest images between 37.500 and 33,500 years old.