• The oldest form of creative expression is parietal art, or rock art—paintings and petroglyphs on cliff faces and in caverns.
  • Paleolithic rock art exemplifies our early ancestors’ growing capacity for symbolic thought, and can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • More than 52 rock art sites are located within 60 miles of one another, in a remote, mountainous area of Borneo, a Southeast Asian island.
  • Among these sites is the earliest known painted cave, Lubang Jeriji Saléh.
  • Before archaeologists chemically dated the artworks in 2018, the oldest cave paintings were thought to be in Europe.
  • Lubang Jeriji Saléh features a great horned bovine creature with what looks like a spear stuck in its side, painted directly overhead on the ceiling of the cave.
  • The choice of subject matter indicates that archaic humans attached tremendous and possibly even religious value to the act of hunting and to the creatures they hunted.
  • Such decorated caves may have played a special role in the lives of our early ancestors, as centers of ritual—places to celebrate successful kills and revere the animals that died.