"The number of images of rock art motifs on Kaimear Island had yet to be ascertained. Our observations estimate the number to reach 300 to 400 images that can still be clearly seen though some could not be identified, as they had faded or deteriorated," Wuri Handoko, the Maluku Archeological Center's archaeologist, revealed here, Monday.
Handoko pointed out that of the rows of painted rock art sites found in Maluku Islands, Kaimear Island site's discovery is the sole one on a high cliff located 80 to 100 meters above sea level.
The rock art on Kaimear Island surpasses the discovery in Ohoidertawun, Kei Kecil Island, in 1988 by Chris Hugh Ballard from the Australian National University, with the figure pegged at 300 motifs.
Handoko elaborated that the rock art in cliff or niches on the beach on Kaimear Island were discovered at three points, one of them being on the Kailean Cave's niche wall situated to the west of Kaimear Village, recorded as having the highest number and varied forms. The number of motifs is estimated to reach 400 to 500 in one steep rocky recess location.
The rock art contained human figure shapes in varied styles as well as images of hand and foot stencils, boats, animals, circles, and several other unidentified images.
Identification was possible of most shapes and forms of rock images that largely depict human figures occupying rock wall panels. The rock art appears in groups on the wall or as a single object.
The color of rock art is generally red and merely a small proportion of them are orange and black.
"Our observation shows that the motifs bear striking colors, as the key traits suggesting that an object is a rock image. Moreover, the pattern is formed by tracings of lines or dots forming unique figures not solely created by the colors resembling formless or spilt over paint," Handoko explained.
Handoko noted that the Archaeological Center had chanced upon the discovery of several rock art forms on Kaimear Island in September 2018 while conducting a research expedition on Islamic culture in Kei Islands.
However, no archaeologist has even recorded or reported about this site that came to light after the locals notified about the rock art on the cliff wall of the coast near Kaimear Village.
Taking into account the gravity of this finding, further systematic and intensive research is necessary for preserving the site.
"The rock art images on Kaimear Island are the latest discoveries in Maluku Islands. An archaeological research team was the first to record it in early September 2018, thereby adding to number of ancient rock art findings in Maluku Islands reported by foreign archaeologists," he added.
EDITED BY INE