Lubang Jeriji Saléh

Lubang Jeriji Saléh is a limestone cave located in the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst in district of Bengalon, East Kutai, East Kalimantan province of Indonesian Borneo, believed to contain the oldest figurative art in the world.[3]

Lubang Jeriji Saléh
The oldest known figurative painting, a depiction of a bull, was discovered in the Lubang Jeriji Saléh cave dated as over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old.[1][2]
Location in Indonesia
Lubang Jeriji Saléh (Asia)
LocationSangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst, Bengalon, East Kutai
RegionEast Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
Coordinates1°14′29.3″N 117°19′44.8″E
MaterialLimestone Karst

Cave paintings

Lubang Jeriji Saléh contains numerous cave paintings. The oldest of these paintings, created over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years ago,[1][2][4] is believed to be of a banteng bull.[5] The bull is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide,[6] and is made from reddish-orange ochre on the cave's limestone walls.[7]

There are three "phases" identified within the cave's paintings. The first contains the bull and ochre hand stencils. The second contains more stencils in a "mulberry colour" along with depictions of humans. The third phase depicts humans, boats and geometric designs.[8]


The cave paintings were first spotted in 1994 by the French explorer Luc-Henri Fage.[9] In 2018, a team of scientists investigating the cave, led by Maxime Aubert from Griffith University and Pindi Setiawan from the Bandung Institute of Technology, published a report in the journal Nature identifying the paintings as the world's oldest known figurative art.[10][11] The team had previously investigated cave paintings in the neighbouring island of Sulawesi.[12] In order to date the paintings, the team used dating techniques on the calcium carbonate (limestone) deposits close to them.[2]


The discovery of the cave paintings is important within human cultural history, as it adds to the view that cave art was created simultaneously in Southeast Asia and Europe. However, it is unknown which people created the paintings and what happened to them.[13]

Francesco d'Errico, an expert in prehistoric art at the University of Bordeaux, described the investigation as a "major archaeological discovery", but also suggested that the discovery offered little information on the geographical origins of art.[14]

See also


  1. Zimmer, Carl (7 November 2018). "In Cave in Borneo Jungle, Scientists Find Oldest Figurative Painting in the World – A cave drawing in Borneo is at least 40,000 years old, raising intriguing questions about creativity in ancient societies". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. Aubert, M.; et al. (7 November 2018). "Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo". Nature. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. Aubert, M.; Setiawan, P.; Oktaviana, A. A.; Brumm, A.; Sulistyarto, P. H.; Saptomo, E. W.; Istiawan, B.; Ma’rifat, T. A.; Wahyuono, V. N.; Atmoko, F. T.; Zhao, J.-X.; Huntley, J.; Taçon, P. S. C.; Howard, D. L.; Brand, H. E. A. (7 November 2018). "Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo". Nature. Springer Nature America, Inc. 564 (7735): 254–257. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0679-9. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 30405242.
  4. Hardwerk, Brian (7 November 2018). "World's Oldest-Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in Borneo Cave – Dated to at least 40,000 years old, the depiction of a cattle-like animal has striking similarities to ancient rock art found in other parts of the world". Smithsonian. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. "Oldest cave painting of animal found". BBC News. 7 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  6. Larson, Christina (7 November 2018). "Red bull drawn in Indonesian cave dated to 40,000 years ago". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  7. Sample, Ian (7 November 2018). "World's 'oldest figurative painting' discovered in Borneo cave". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  8. Strickland, Ashley (7 November 2018). "Oldest figurative artwork found in a cave that's full of surprises". CNN. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. Delbecq, Denis (7 November 2018). "A Bornéo, des fresques parmi les plus anciennes du monde ont été découvertes". Le Temps (in French). Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  10. Maxime Aubert; et al. (November 2018). "Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo". Nature. 564 (7735): 254–257. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0679-9. PMID 30405242.
  11. Gabbatiss, Josh (8 November 2018). "Oldest ever figurative painting discovered in Borneo cave". The Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  12. Weule, Genelle (8 November 2018). "Scientists say this is the world's oldest known animal rock art". ABC News. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  13. Rice, Doyle (8 November 2018). "Earliest cave paintings of animal discovered in Indonesia, dating back 40,000 years". USA TODAY. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  14. Rincon, Paul (7 November 2018). "'Oldest animal painting' discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
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