Archaeologists may have unraveled the age-old mystery of the origin of cave paintings found in a cave in Australia. They represent mysterious ships that the natives did not build. However, a new study suggests that they may have seen such ships.
An abstract of the study is published in the Live Science newsletter. Mysterious cave paintings were discovered about 50 years ago. Even then, scientists were struck by two images: large ships are clearly visible on the stone “canvas”, which the indigenous people did not have. Meanwhile, the age of the drawings is hundreds of years old.
In a new study, archaeologists identified these images as warships from the Moluccas, also known as the Moluccan Islands. This archipelago is located off the east coast of Indonesia, strictly north of Australia, a continent that has been isolated by ocean from other continents for at least the last 65,000 years.
The fact that the Moluccans were in contact with the natives of Australia has been known for a long time. In addition, in the caves there are other cave paintings that represent ships that set sail from the Moluccas. However, these were all sailing ships of merchants and fishermen. The two mysterious drawings do not represent merchant ships, but military ones. According to the authors of the work, these drawings have martial features and “show triangular flags, pennants and decorations on the nose, indicating combat status.”
“These are warships adorned with pennants, flags and other elements that really set them apart from ordinary commercial or fishing vessels,” says study co-author Daryl Wesley, an archaeologist at Flinders University. “This is really different from our understanding from everyone else. boats that are represented in rock art in Arnhem Land, northern Australia.
After examining the drawings, the researchers noted a high level of detail. In his opinion, this means that the natives had a very good knowledge of the ships due to long and careful observation. At the same time, they did not know how to build such ships themselves. The existence of cave paintings of warships, the authors of the article point out, “indicates cases of physical abuse or at least a show of force” by the Moluccan people against indigenous Australians.
However, this is only one version. Future research will help discover the true intention of ancient artists. The document also claims that some of the earliest recorded voyages by Indonesian islanders to the northern coast of Australia took place in the mid-17th century. And the oldest cave paintings with ships date from the end of the 16th century. The full version of the study can be found in the journal Historical Archeology.