Melbourne: Analysing ancient rock art across South-east Asia, researchers have found that the art originated with our ancestors in Africa, not Europe as some claimed.
The earliest people in South-east Asia, hunter-gatherers who arrived over 50,000 years ago, brought with them this rich art practice, which helped them to produce exquisite paintings of animals in rock shelters from south-west China to Indonesia, the findings showed.
"The research supports the idea suggested by the early Indonesian rock art dates that modern humans brought the practice of making semi-permanent images in rocky landscapes to Europe and Asia from Africa," said lead researcher Paul Tacon, professor at the Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.
"As with the early art of Europe, the oldest South-east Asian images often incorporated or were placed in relation to natural features of rock surfaces," Tacon added.
Besides China and Indonesia, early rock art sites were also recorded in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.
The oldest paintings were identified by analysing overlapping superimpostions of art in various styles as well as numerical dating.
It was found that the oldest art mainly consisted of naturalistic images of wild animals.
The findings appeared in the archaeological journal Antiquity.