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The oldest dated cave art in Southeast Asia can be found in Cagayan

The oldest dated cave art in Southeast Asia can be found in Cagayan

FreebieMNL - The oldest dated cave art in Southeast Asia can be found in Cagayan

We know how drawn Filipinos are when comes to arts. And we’ve seen these through the works of modern and contemporary artists displayed in places like the National Museum of the Philippines

But did you know that the fascination of the Filipinos towards the the arts — particularly on rock art — go as far as thousands of years ago? Well, 3,500 years ago to be exact. 

In case you missed it, there’s a number of cave art drawings that were found in the town of Peñablanca in Cagayan Province that a team of researchers believe to be 3,500 years old. Per ABS-CBN News, the discovery is the oldest directly dated rock art in Southeast Asia. 

Researchers from the Philippines and Australia worked together to find out how old the drawings were through the charcoal-like black pigment used to make them. 

As it turns out, the pigment used was composed of carbon black or bone black which were made from either burned animals or plants. 

Andrea Jalandoni, a research associate at the National Museum of the Philippines and a research fellow at the Griffith University in Australia who led the team of researchers, admitted it’s quite challenging to identify who have drawn these figures. 

“It was created by either early Austronesians, who arrived around 4000 years ago and are the dominant current population in the Philippines or the Agta Negritos who migrated during the Ice Age. Both groups still live in the area, so more rock art needs to be dated to determine its origin,” Jalandoni said as quoted by Griffith News.

As of writing, the possibility of the Peñablanca caves revealing further clues on the identities of the artists — including the source of the pigments and the artists’ way of life — remains elusive for now. 


Maeanwhile, Jalandoni said she still hopes the National Museum would make more efforts to increase public awareness and appreciation of the historical and cultural value to protect these artworks. 

Watch the video below:

Jalandoni’s work has been published on the Cambridge University Press journal Radiocarbon.

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