The oldest drawing in the world

rock with oldest known drawing in the world
Fragment of rock with Stone Age drawing (source: Reuters).

You might say that this is old news but I think that it’s worth re-telling.

First of all there’s the story of the ancient ‘paint factory’ found in a cave in South Africa. And then the archaeologists tell us that they have found the oldest drawing ever discovered and – it’s about 73,000 years old.

So the ‘paint factory’ included a large sea shell with ochre residue inside it, a quartzite stone for grinding the ochre, and there was also evidence that charcoal and oil from seal bones was being added to the mix, to make a paste. There was two colours – red and yellow – and there were spatulas made of bone to mix and spread the paint.

All these bits were found together in the cave, almost as if someone had put them down, intending to retrieve them later. As you know, these arty types are notorious for ‘wandering off’ in search of inspiration (or creamy cups of coffee). Anyway, shifting sand covered up the cave entrance and buried the artist’s tools until they were eventually excavated in 2008.

Did I mention that this painting set was about 100,000 years old?

It was found in the Blombos Cave on the southern coast of South Africa and the archaeologists have been sifting through the layers of sand there ever since. They recently made a new discovery: a rock with a bit of ochre drawing on it.

Some people say that the drawing looks just like a hashtag but, according to archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood, speaking to Reuters: “The drawing was probably more complex in its entirety. The abrupt termination of all lines on the fragment edges indicates that the pattern originally extended over a larger surface.”

He also said that while it almost definitely had “some meaning to the maker”, he would be “hesitant to call it art”.

Dear, oh dear – even those hairy Homo Sapiens, taking their first tentative steps into art back in the Stone Age, had critics disparaging their work (!)

More about this story on the BBC website here 

Your comments are always welcome – down below, thanks




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