New find reveals SA is home to world's oldest artwork

13 September, 2018, 14:33 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Craig Foster via AP

A drawing made with ochre pigment on silcrete stone, found in the Blombos cave east of Cape Town, South Africa.

The Conversation Africa asked Professor Christopher Henshilwood, who leads the team that made the discovery, about its significance.

As is so often the case with archaeological discoveries, the scientists excavating the cave did not immediately spot the Stone Age hashtag, and it ended up in a bucket of seemingly insignificant material destined for further scrutiny in the lab.

It consists of a set of six straight sub-parallel lines crossed obliquely by three slightly curved lines.

"The abrupt termination of all lines on the fragment edges indicates that the pattern originally extended over a larger surface", he said.

This has shifted our thinking about when human ancestors started drawing. The earliest known drawing in history - a red, cross-hatched pattern - has been unearthed in South Africa.

For example, the oldest known engraving - a zigzag etched on a 540,000-year-old shell - was discovered in Trinil in Java; and 64,000-year-old paintings made by Neanderthals were recently found in caves in the Iberian Peninsula.


The silcrete flake was found in a layer of sediment previously dated to 73,000 years old, and in a cave that has previously been found to contain ochre pieces. So the newly found sketch is probably not just a collection of random scratchings.

"We would be hesitant to call it art".

"It nearly certainly had some meaning to the maker, and probably formed a part of the common symbolic system understood by other people in this group", he said. It's also evidence of early humans' ability to store information outside of the human brain. "Is that art? Who's going to tell you it's art or not?"

"We can reconstruct it and put everything back digitally", says Karen van Niekerk, principal investigator at Bergen University's Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour.

Fortunately for archaeologists, around 70,000 years ago Blombos Cave became closed, which kept the precious artifacts inside of it safe from the world outside. It was used as a temporary living site by hunter gatherer groups; they'd spend a week or two there at a time before moving on.

Numerous other artefacts were found in Blombos Cave, including beads covered in red ochreand a paint-making kit dating back around 100,000 years. It is at least 30,000 years older than any other known drawing, researchers say in a report released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Recommended:

  • Big and vicious: Hurricane Florence closes in on Carolinas

    Big and vicious: Hurricane Florence closes in on Carolinas

    President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Typically, local governments in North Carolina make the call on evacuations.
    Tony Finau excited to make Ryder Cup debut after wildcard pick

    Tony Finau excited to make Ryder Cup debut after wildcard pick

    Tony Finau plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Aronimink GC. Xander Schauffele , from California, who finished tied for third in the BMW, had also been considered a possible wild card.

    Hurricane Florence's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs

    "Florence is intensifying", said North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper, adding: "This storm is strong, and its gettings stronger". Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
  • Akshay, Rajini battle face-to-face in '2.0' teaser

    Akshay, Rajini battle face-to-face in '2.0' teaser

    All in all, the teaser of 2Point0 promises another visual spectacle from master storyteller Shankar this November. We hope the release day comes as soon as possible as the wait is making everyone impatient.
    First UK case of monkeypox identified

    First UK case of monkeypox identified

    When an outbreak occurred in the United States in 2003, it was traced to a pet store where imported Gambian rodents were sold. Smallpox vaccine, cidofovir, ST-246, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can also be used to control a monkeypox outbreak.
    New iPhone XC pictures surface along with preorder and shipment dates

    New iPhone XC pictures surface along with preorder and shipment dates

    The company is hosting the Apple Special Occasion at 10 am PDT (10:30 pm IST) on September 12 at Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park. The mostly excellent Galaxy S9's new features aren't quite as good as we'd like, but you'll probably want to buy one anyway.
  • Apple event 2018: 3 new iPhones, new watch, not much else

    TechCrunch has since confirmed the stream will be live on Twitter itself, rather than Apple linking you to its own stream page. But while Bloomberg and Kuo still expect AirPower to launch this year, Apple is no longer saying so on its website .
    Death toll from Afghanistan blast rises to 68

    Death toll from Afghanistan blast rises to 68

    The first explosion happened in front of Malika Omaira girls' school at around 8:30 am (0400 GMT), Khogyani told AFP earlier. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the suicide attack against the demonstrators in Nangarhar.
    Russian Federation  identifies 2 suspects in Skripal poisoning case - Putin

    Russian Federation identifies 2 suspects in Skripal poisoning case - Putin

    It will be better for everyone. 'There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. "We'll see in the near future". Prime Minister Theresa May said intelligence showed the poisonings were state-sponsored by Russian Federation .
  • Here’s How to Make the Sahara Desert Green Again

    Here’s How to Make the Sahara Desert Green Again

    But the lack of vegetation feedbacks could make the modelled climate impacts very different from their actual behaviour. Credit: Licensed under CC-BY 4.0.
    Hurricane Florence could stall offshore in repeat of

    Hurricane Florence could stall offshore in repeat of "Harvey"

    On Wednesday morning, the storm was about 550 miles from the Carolina coast and remains a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. Along with Florence, there are three other tropical systems, Isaac, Helene and Joyce churning in the Atlantic Ocean.
    Miners in Australia unearth huge gold-encrusted rocks worth $11m

    Miners in Australia unearth huge gold-encrusted rocks worth $11m

    That's more than 560 pounds (255kg), or $10 million of gold in just four days, if you were to just cash it in today. The largest rock weighs about 198 pounds (90kg) and took three men to lift it onto the back of a pick-up truck.


Popular

Paulina Gretzky, Dustin Johnson Rumors: Alleged Mistress Denies Reports
And golf, obviously I love to play it and it's very important, but at the end of the day, I still get to go home to them. The 29-year-old Gretzky, of course, is the daughter of legendary National Hockey League star Wayne Gretzky.

Microsoft Edge warns Windows 10 users to avoid Chrome and Firefox
What's your view on this latest move from Microsoft? "Microsoft should focus on building great products instead and win users". Developer Sean Hoffman spotted Microsoft's warning while trying to install Firefox , he said in a tweet .

Apple permanently banned InfoWars from the App Store
That means Apple's content policies cover only a smaller set of content found in the app than in the podcasts. Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn , and Instagram .

The drum gun has been vaulted and it has divided Fortnite players
In the drum gun's stead the suppressed assault rifle has been added, a legendary weapon that "rewards precision over rapid-fire". Some players believe that the power of certain weapons has lowered the skill ceiling and damaged the reliability of building.

Pocan says talk of Trump impeachment is 'moot conversation'
Of course, President Trump has proven polls wrong before. Trump campaigned in North Dakota for Cramer last Friday. President Trump talks with Sen.

Rain washes out NASCAR, PGA Tour events
Indianapolis has been drenched in three days of rain and NASCAR has not been able to get any cars on track. A competition caution will take place at lap 10 and lap 30 after no practice or qualifying took place.

Supernatural Video Game Alan Wake Is Becoming A TV Show
Lake said there's now "no news" to share about an Alan Wake 2 game, even though he said making one would be "a dream" of his. It was influenced by " The Twilight Zone , ' 'Secret Window , ' Hitchcock , 'Northern Exposure , ' a lot of USA television".

Mallya claims he met Jaitley before leaving India; he denies
He said he met the finance minister at several occasions when he was a member of the Rajya Sabha, but never met him formally. The Congress was not convinced by Jaitley's response. "PM Modi meets Nirav Modi before he flees the country".

Hurricane Florence map uses an unfortunate graphic to display devastation
Almost 1000 prisoners in SC will not be moved from their cells, despite a mandatory evacuation order in the area. A graphic of Hurricane Florence's path, generated today (Sept. 12) at 2 p.m.

European Union punishes Hungary with unprecedented action
Voting 448 in favour, 197 against and 48 abstentions, the motion passed in the Strasbourg plenary session. The European Parliament will vote next week on a proposal to trigger Article 7 against Hungary.