Warty Pig

Morgan Meis at Slant Books:

The warty pig in question is a depiction on the inside of a cave in Indonesia. The painting was discovered last year. It was painted, the carbon daters say, about 45,000 years ago. That’s more than 10,000 years older than the famous paintings at the Chauvet Cave in France. Warty pig is, for now at least, the oldest work of representational art, by far, that exists anywhere in the world. 45,000 years. A long time. Also not a long time, geologically speaking. Just a blip. For us, though, for us, a very long time.

Anyway, the painter of warty pig, whoever this person was, seems to have been working on a domestic scene going on between at least three warty pigs. And what might have been the important business amongst the warty pigs on the island of Sulawesi during the forty-fifth-thousand-and-first century BCE? Well, the Sulawesi warty pig lives on the island to this very day. So, we have a pretty good sense of what the pig would have been doing 45,000 years ago. It would have been wandering around in the mornings and early evenings, rooting around in the underbrush looking for goodies to eat. It would have been working out whatever things needed to be worked out in the small social groups in which the pigs tend to live. Maybe that’s what the cave painting is showing us, an impromptu meeting of warty pigs 45,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the images of the other pigs have been lost to us but for a few scraps of color and shape. We’ll never know exactly what was the greater context for this image.

But here are a few things that I love about this fragment that has passed down to us from the deepest recesses of the past.

More here.