Quantcast

#Ancient? Crisscrossed lines called world's oldest drawing

Posted: Updated:
(Craig Foster via AP). This undated photo provided by Craig Foster in September 2018 shows a drawing made with ochre pigment on silcrete stone, found in the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. In a report released on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018... (Craig Foster via AP). This undated photo provided by Craig Foster in September 2018 shows a drawing made with ochre pigment on silcrete stone, found in the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. In a report released on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018...
(Magnus M. Haaland via AP). This undated photo provided by Magnus M. Haaland in September 2018 shows researchers in the interior of the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. In a report released on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, scientists say a ti... (Magnus M. Haaland via AP). This undated photo provided by Magnus M. Haaland in September 2018 shows researchers in the interior of the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. In a report released on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, scientists say a ti...
  • NationalMore>>

  • National park in Hawaii reopens after monthslong eruption

    National park in Hawaii reopens after monthslong eruption

    Saturday, September 22 2018 12:00 AM EDT2018-09-22 04:00:27 GMT
    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:26 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:26:49 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File). FILE - In this May, 9, 2018, file photo, visitors take pictures as Kilauea's summit crater glows red in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will reopen its main gates Saturday, Sept. 22, 201...(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File). FILE - In this May, 9, 2018, file photo, visitors take pictures as Kilauea's summit crater glows red in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will reopen its main gates Saturday, Sept. 22, 201...
    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will reopen its main gates Saturday, welcoming carloads of visitors eager to see Kilauea's new summit crater and the area where a longstanding lava lake once bubbled near the surface.Full Story
    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will reopen its main gates Saturday, welcoming carloads of visitors eager to see Kilauea's new summit crater and the area where a longstanding lava lake once bubbled near the surface.Full Story
  • Police beef up security for UN gathering, Trump visit

    Police beef up security for UN gathering, Trump visit

    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:00 AM EDT2018-09-22 15:00:47 GMT
    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:26 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:26:44 GMT
    (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle). FILE- In this Sept. 17, 2017 file photo, a security team near Trump Tower looks towards high floors of nearby buildings shortly before the arrival of President Donald Trump in New York. Authorities in New York City are facing a...(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle). FILE- In this Sept. 17, 2017 file photo, a security team near Trump Tower looks towards high floors of nearby buildings shortly before the arrival of President Donald Trump in New York. Authorities in New York City are facing a...
    Authorities in New York City are facing an epic security and logistical challenge with the coming arrival of President Donald Trump and other world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly.Full Story
    Authorities in New York City are facing an epic security and logistical challenge with the coming arrival of President Donald Trump and other world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly.Full Story
  • Florence sweeps away motel and family's hard work, savings

    Florence sweeps away motel and family's hard work, savings

    Saturday, September 22 2018 8:40 AM EDT2018-09-22 12:40:43 GMT
    Saturday, September 22 2018 11:26 PM EDT2018-09-23 03:26:34 GMT
    (AP Photo/David Goldman). In this Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 photo, Smita Depani, center, stands in the apartment she lived in while surveying the damage with her brother-in-law Jayanti Depani, right, and sister-in-law Puspa Manvar in the Starlite Motel...(AP Photo/David Goldman). In this Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 photo, Smita Depani, center, stands in the apartment she lived in while surveying the damage with her brother-in-law Jayanti Depani, right, and sister-in-law Puspa Manvar in the Starlite Motel...
    Hurricane Florence washed away half the rooms at the Starlite Motel in Spring Lake, ripping away the livelihood of a family that bought it in recent months.Full Story
    Hurricane Florence washed away half the rooms at the Starlite Motel in Spring Lake, ripping away the livelihood of a family that bought it in recent months.Full Story

By MALCOLM RITTER
AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - It looks a bit like a hashtag, but it's 73,000 years old. And scientists say this tiny sketch found in a South African cave is the oldest known drawing.

It's not the earliest deliberate design; some abstract engravings are far older. But the drawing shows early humans in southern Africa could produce designs on various surfaces with different techniques.

The collection of crisscrossed lines was found in the Blombos Cave about 190 miles (300 kilometers) east of Cape Town. It is at least 30,000 years older than any other known drawing, researchers say in a report released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

It was created with a sharpened flake of ochre, a pigment widely used in the ancient world, said Christopher Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway.

The drawing is basically six red lines crossed by three other slightly curved lines. It appears on a tiny flake of mineral crust measuring only about 1.5 inches (39 millimeters) long and about half an inch (15 millimeters) tall. It's evidently part of a larger drawing because lines reaching the edge are cut off abruptly there, researchers said.

The drawing was apparently made before the flake was deliberately struck off of a grinding stone used to make ochre powder, Henshilwood said in an email.

Similar patterns are engraved in other artifacts from the cave, and the hashtag design was produced widely over the past 100,000 years in rock art and paintings, he said. So the newly found sketch is probably not just a collection of random scratchings.

"It almost 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.

The finding gives evidence that early humans could store information outside the brain and supports the argument that early members of our species "behaved essentially like us" before they left Africa for Europe and Asia, he said.

Silvia Bello, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London who didn't participate in the study, called the finding important.

"It further shows how rich and complex human behavior already was 73,000 years ago," she said in an email.

___

Follow Malcolm Ritter at @MalcolmRitter . His recent work can be found here .

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.