Researchers in Indonesia reported their findings of discovering jewelry and pigments inside an Ice Age-era cave. The artifacts that were found are believed to be anywhere from 22,000 to 30,000 years old. The team of researchers published their discovery in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences scientific journal.

What was found

The research team that reported these findings have explored the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, located east of Borneo, since 2014. They have been on the island searching for traces of its earliest inhabitants. Back in 2014 they found hand stencils and a painting of a babirusa that were over 35,000 years old.

This new discovery came when excavating the Leang Bulu Bettue cave. On the walls of the cave were purple and red hand stencils that were basically identical to those found earlier. The researchers found stone artifacts that had been carved into various geometric patterns and chunks of ochre, an earthly pigment that got used in cave painting. They found a finger bone from a bear cuscus that had a hole drilled in it, which they believe was used as a necklace. Lastly, they found some unfinished beads that were disk-shaped and were made from the tooth of a babirusa. They believe that these were shaped with a primitive chisel and used as a jewelry on necklaces.

Why this discovery is important

There is plenty of Ice Age-era artwork and artifacts from Europe since these sites have been studied since the 1800s and are the best documented on Earth.

However, evidence and artifacts of art from this early in human history is much harder to find in other regions, although there has been an uptick in recent years. Since the jewelry that was found is made from bones of animals that are only found on Sulawesi, it has the research team speculating that early humans got drawn to the place because of the exotic animal species on the island.

Out of the 2000 islands that make up Wallacea, which is located between the main islands of Borneo and New Guinea, only seven have yielded artifacts dating back to the era of the Ice Age. Therefore, this discovery adds just a little bit more knowledge for researchers to learn about the early humans that lived in the region.

It also adds more to the collective knowledge of early human rock art, since it was believed that there was none in the region.

Some American Ice Age-era artwork

A few years ago in Florida, a 13,000-year-old bone fragment from the Ice Age was found. It is the only known example of a proboscidean (mammals with trunks) ever found in the Americas. In 2013 the oldest rock art in North America was found in Nevada. The petroglyphs were abstract designs that looked like trees or leaves. They are estimated to be between 10,500 and 14,800 years old.