On a speck of an Indonesian island, a team of archaeologists from the Australian National University in Canberra have uncovered a cache of incredible ancient cave paintings.
The 28 rock sites housing the paintings were found on an island called Kisar, which has, until now, remained uncharted. The motifs in these paintings suggest that they were created during the Bronze Age, approximately 2500 years ago. They hold a plethora of historical information about the region’s trade and cultural practices.
The island was part of a vibrant spice trade, which is hinted at in the artwork, with illustrations of boats, horses and ceremonial drums. The works share a feature found on paintings on nearby Timor-Leste – a protocol of depicting humans and animals only 10 centimetres high.
Strikingly, these small but dynamic depictions also bear resemblance to those found in north Vietnam and south China, which are assumed to be from the same period. This points to the fact that all these regions were interacting and trading with each other, leading to an exchange of artistic expression.
Geetanjali Rangnekar is a science communicator and editor, based in Adelaide, Australia.
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