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30 Nov

The earliest figurative paintings in Europe date back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, and are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania.

The earliest non-figurative rock art dates back to approximately 40,000 years ago, the date given both to a disk in the El Castillo cave and a hand stencil in Timpuseng cave Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Here's a look at the rock art, discovered and dated from seven caves sites in Sulawesi, an island of Indonesia.

[Read full story on the Indonesia cave art] The paintings were found decades ago in Indonesia's Maros and Pangkep regions, which have cave-dotted karst rock formations.

"Now a lot has been damaged through exfoliation, pieces falling off.

Indonesian and Australian scientists have dated other non-figurative paintings on the walls to be approximately 40,000 years old.

They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible.

Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them.

Initially, the age of the paintings had been a contentious issue, since methods like radiocarbon dating can produce misleading results if contaminated by samples of older or newer material, and caves and rocky overhangs (where parietal art is found) are typically littered with debris from many time periods.

But subsequent technology has made it possible to date the paintings by sampling the pigment itself and the torch marks on the walls.