The Guardian (among other sources) reports on cave paintings on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi that push back the earliest known art made by Homo sapiens to a date about 15,000 years before the first cave paintings appeared in Europe:
Humans have hunted Sulawesi warty pigs for tens of thousands of years, and they are a key feature of the region’s prehistoric artwork, particularly during the ice age.
[Griffith University researcher Maxime] Aubert, a dating specialist, identified a calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting, then used uranium-series isotope dating to confidently say the deposit was 45,500 years old.
This makes the painting at least that age, “but it could be much older because the dating that we’re using only dates the calcite on top of it”, he explained.
“The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked,” he added.
The previously oldest dated rock art painting was found by the same team in Sulawesi. It depicted a group of part-human, part-animal figures hunting mammals, and was found to be at least 43,900 years old.
The team believes the artwork was made by Homo sapiens, as opposed to now extinct human species like Denisovans, but cannot say this for certain.
To make handprints, the artists would have had to place their hands on a surface then spit pigment over it, and the team are hoping to try to extract DNA samples from residual saliva.
You can read the paper in Science Advances here.