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World’s oldest cave art found showing humans and pig

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The oldest example of figurative cave art has been discovered in the Indonesian Island of South Sulawesi by Australian and Indonesian scientists.

The painting of a wild pig and three human-like figures is at least 51,200 years old, more than 5,000 years older than the previous oldest cave art.

The discovery pushes back the time that modern humans first showed the capacity for creative thought.Prof Maxime Aubert from Griffith University in Australia told BBC News that the discovery would change ideas about human evolution.

“The painting tells a complex story. It is the oldest evidence we have for storytelling. It shows that humans at the time had the capacity to think in abstract terms,” he said.

The painting shows a pig standing still with its mouth partly open and at least three human-like figures.

The largest human figure has both arms extended and appears to be holding a rod. The second is immediately in front of the pig with its head next to its snout. It also seems to be holding a stick, one end of which may be in contact with the pig’s throat. The last human-like figure seems to be upside-down with its legs facing up and splayed outwards. It has one hand reaching towards and seemingly touching the pig’s head.

The team of scientists was led by Adhi Agus Oktaviana, an Indonesian rock art specialist from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) in Jakarta. He says that that narrative storytelling was a crucial part of early human culture in Indonesia from a very early point in time.

“Humans have probably been telling stories for much longer than 51,200 years, but as words do not fossilise we can only go by indirect proxies like depictions of scenes in art – and the Sulawesi art is now the oldest such evidence by far that is known to archaeology,” he said.

The first evidence for drawing on stones found in the Blombos Caves in southern Africa dating back to between 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. These consist of geometric patterns.

The new painting, in the limestone cave of Leang Karampuang in the Maros-Pangkep region of South Sulawesi, shows representational art – and abstract representation of the world around the person or people that painted it. It therefore represents an evolution in the thought processes in our species that gave rise to art and science.

The question is what triggered this awakening of the human mind, according to Dr Henry Gee, who is a senior editor at the journal Nature, where the details were published.

“Something seems to have happened around 50,000 years ago, shortly after which all other species of human such as Neanderthals and the so-called Hobbit died out.

“It is very romantic to think that at some point in that time something happened in the human brain, but I think it is more likely that there are even earlier examples of representational art”.

Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London believes that there may be examples of ancient representational art in Africa, where modern humans first evolved, but we have not found any yet.

“This find reinforces the idea that representational art was first produced in Africa, before 50,000 years ago, and the concept spread as our species spread.

“If that is true, much new supporting evidence from other areas including Africa has yet to emerge. Obviously this oldest date is work on one panel at one site – hopefully more dating will be done at more sites to confirm this apparently crucial finding”.

The new dating was made possible using a new method which involves cutting tiny amounts of the art using a laser. This enables researchers to study different parts of the artwork in greater detail and come up with a more accurate dating.

As the new method becomes more widely used, several sites with cave art across the world may be re-dated, possibly pushing back further the emergence of representational art.

Until 10 years ago, the only evidence of ancient cave art was found in places such as Spain and Southern France. It led some to believe that the creative explosion that led to the art and science we know today began in Europe.

But the discovery of coloured outlines of human hands in South Suluwesi in 2014 shattered that view.

Then in November 2018, in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on the Indonesian Island of Borneo, scientists found the then oldest representational artwork, thought to be more than 40,000 years old, of an unknown animal.

Prof Adam Brumm from Griffith University said that the latest Indonesian cave art discoveries cast new light on the important role of storytelling in the history of art.

“It is noteworthy that the oldest cave art we have found in Sulawesi thus far consists of recognisable scenes: that is, paintings that depict humans and animals interacting in such a way that we can infer the artist intended to communicate a narrative of some kind – a story,” he said.

(BBC News)

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Trump nominated Republican presidential candidate

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Donald Trump won formal nomination Monday as the Republican presidential candidate and picked a right-wing loyalist for running mate, kicking off a triumphalist party convention in the wake of last weekend’s failed assassination attempt.

Trump announced 39-year-old Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his vice presidential pick, rewarding a one-time harsh critic who became one of his most reliable — and uncompromising — supporters in Congress.

Trump, 78, is guaranteed a hero’s welcome at the convention in Milwaukee, where delegates delivered their formal nomination two days after the scandal-plagued former president survived an assassination attempt at a rally.

“As Vice President, J.D. will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our Troops, and will do everything he can to help me MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Trump posted on Truth Social.

While Trump is increasingly confident of a shock return to the White House — despite multiple legal problems and two impeachments during his first term — President Joe Biden is reeling from weak polls and Democratic concerns over his health.

In the delegates count in Milwaukee, Eric Trump put his father over the threshold on behalf of the Florida delegation, calling him “the greatest president that ever lived.”

Vance had been widely expected as Trump’s pick. He will bolster the ticket on the right wing, but with less chance of expanding appeal to more moderate voters and women.

The standard-bearer for a new kind of populism that has come to the fore under Trump, Vance is also one of the least experienced VP picks in modern history.

But he embraces the ex-president’s isolationist, anti-immigration America First movement. Vance is further to the right than his new boss on many issues including abortion, where he embraces calls for federal legislation.

He initially made his name with the 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” a best-selling account of his Appalachian family and modest Rust Belt upbringing, which gave a voice to rural, working-class resentment in left-behind America.

Turning his back on previous opposition to Trump, whom he once said might be “America’s Hitler,” Vance reinvented himself and ultimately won the ex-president’s key endorsement in the 2022 Ohio Senate race, launching his meteoric rise.

Trump’s convention comes as the country is still reeling from a botched attempt by a gunman to kill Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday.

Some 50,000 Republicans descended on the shores of Lake Michigan for the four-day gathering, four months before election day.

The attempted assassination — in which one bystander was killed, two more wounded and Trump received a light wound in his ear — was expected to dominate proceedings.

The Secret Service, which is battling criticism it failed to protect Trump from the shooter, said it was “fully prepared” to ensure security at the convention.

Leading in multiple polls, despite being convicted at his hush-money criminal case in New York, Trump is exuding confidence.

At 81, Biden is facing calls from his own side to quit the race over concerns around his age.

His campaign released a statement saying the Trump-Vance agenda would “take away Americans’ rights, hurt the middle class, and make life more expensive — all while benefiting the ultra-rich and greedy corporations.”

Trump scored another victory Monday as a judge dismissed the criminal case against him over accusations he endangered national security by holding on to top secret documents after leaving the White House.

He immediately took to Truth Social to call for the dismissal of all legal cases against him, insisting again that he was being targeted for political reasons.

Trump told the New York Post he had “prepared an extremely tough speech” about Biden’s “horrible administration” to deliver at the convention.

As some Republicans — including Vance — sought to blame Democrats’ anti-Trump rhetoric for the attack, Trump also said he hopes to “unite our country.”

Still, that would see him have to rein in the instinct to settle scores — demonstrated by his cry for supporters to “fight” in the seconds after Saturday’s attack.

The Milwaukee gathering is largely designed in Trump’s image, with digital banners beaming out a message in the cavernous convention arena: “Make America Great Once Again.”

The branding reflects his takeover of the party.

A diminished figure after his 2020 election loss and a subsequent riot at the Capitol by his supporters, Trump has spent much of the last four years reshaping Republican politics.

Installing loyalists including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump atop the Republican National Committee, the billionaire has effectively crushed dissent.

Source: Agencies

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K P Sharma Oli appointed Nepal’s new Premier

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K P Sharma Oli was appointed Nepal’s Prime Minister for the third time on July 14 to lead the new coalition government that faces the daunting challenge of providing political stability in the country.

Mr. Oli, 72, succeeds Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda who lost the vote of confidence in the House of Representatives on July 12, leading to the formation of the new government process as per Article 76 (2) of the Constitution.

President Ram Chandra Paudel appointed Oli as the new Prime Minister of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)-Nepali Congress (NC) coalition.

Mr. Oli along with the new Cabinet will be sworn in on July 15.

Late on July 12 night, Mr. Oli staked his claim to become the next Prime Minister with the backing of NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba and submitted the signatures of 165 House of Representatives (HoR) members — 77 from his party and 88 from the NC.

Mr. Oli served as Nepal’s Prime Minister from October 11, 2015, to August 3, 2016 and then, from February 5, 2018, to July 13, 2021.

(PTI)

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Xi leads China’s reform, opening up in new era

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In December 2012, Xi Jinping, then newly elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, chose Guangdong, a frontier of China’s reform and opening up, as the destination of his first inspection tour.

During this trip, he issued a mobilization order to the whole Party and country.

“The decision to launch reform and opening up was right. We must keep to this correct path, ” he said. “We must stay unwavering on the road to the prosperity of the nation and the people.”

For over a decade, Xi has continuously planned the overall direction of reforms and promoted implementation.

2024 marks another significant year for deepening reform in the new era. Xi will lead the 1.4 billion Chinese people in jointly writing a new chapter of reform in the new era.

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