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Anatomically modern humans (AMHs) had reached the edge of continental Eurasia (Sunda) and crossed eastwards into “Wallacea,” the ∼1,700-km-wide zone of oceanic islands separating Sunda from the Pleistocene low sea-level landmass of Sahul (Australia/Papua) (1), by 47 ka (2), and possibly several millennia earlier (3).Wallacea lies in the east of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) and straddles the equator between 4° N and 10° S.Thus, our understanding of the symbolic worlds of UP Europeans is more validly based on the thousands of personal ornaments (22–24), portable artworks (25, 26), and other material symbols largely recovered from archaeological sites located within restricted regions (21, 24).In ISEA, although we now have dated Pleistocene rock art from the large Wallacean islands of Sulawesi (19) and Timor (27, 28), we still have extremely limited knowledge of the wider symbolic culture and nonparietal art used by early AMHs in this region.In other recent work in the Manatuto region of East Timor, rock art was discovered at the site of Hatu Wakik (Hawak) in the form of negative hand stencils and abstract geometric shapes.Lithics excavated from the site were dated to between 3,000 and 5,000 BP [164].

Previously, assemblages of multiple and diverse types of Pleistocene “symbolic” artifacts were entirely unknown from this region.

Including previously unknown practices of self-ornamentation, used ochre, pigmented artifacts, and portable art, these findings advance our knowledge of the cultural repertoires of modern humans in Pleistocene Wallacea, including the nonparietal artworks and symbolic material culture of some of the world’s earliest known “cave artists.”Wallacea, the zone of oceanic islands separating the continental regions of Southeast Asia and Australia, has yielded sparse evidence for the symbolic culture of early modern humans.

Here we report evidence for symbolic activity 30,000–22,000 y ago at Leang Bulu Bettue, a cave and rock-shelter site on the Wallacean island of Sulawesi.

Peralta [166] has previously remarked that the petroglyphs are sim ilar to those made by the Tau’t Batu, an indigenous cave- dwelling tribe in Palawan.

We present evidence from the Late Pleistocene of Sulawesi, Indonesia, where an unusually rich and unique symbolic complex was excavated from archaeological deposits spanning 30,000 to 22,000 y ago.

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