Oldest human drawing discovered in Africa


A group of European and African researchers found inside a cave in South Africa a drawing of nine red lines, which were painted with ocher on a small piece of stone. This discovery has been cataloged as something historical, because, according to specialists, it is the oldest drawing in the history of humanity.

This drawing, made with a pointed wax, is 73,000 years old and researchers believe that it came off a larger piece. This representation is about 10,000 years older than those that, until now, were considered the first drawings made by human hands.

This discovery shows “that drawing was part of the behavior of the first Homo sapiens” and, together with the previous findings, proves that those humans had “the ability to perform similar designs in various media using different techniques”, the authors of the discovery say in the Journal Nature.

In addition, it was reported that the figure was analyzed microscopically to reconstruct the strokes and to verify that a person made them intentionally with a fragment of sharp ocher, whose tip was 2 millimeters thick.

“Although I have no doubts about the drawing capabilities of our species 73,000 years ago, I believe that this possible drawing does not constitute complex figurative art and that other ornamental findings recovered in Blombos, South Africa, such as necklace beads, are more expressive of the capacity of our species,” said María Martinón-Torres, director of the National Research Center on Human Evolution.

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The Blombos Cave, located about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town, has been considered an important archeological site since the 1990s. Several artefacts testify to early cultural activities of modern humans from 70,000 to 100,000 years ago, including pierced and red-colored snail shells – apparently jewelery – and numerous stone tools. In 2002, Henshilwood and colleagues presented two ocher pieces engraved with crossed lines strikingly reminiscent of the pattern on the Silcret artwork.

Andrei Santov

Andrei, a sociologist by profession, born in Russia but currently located in UK, covers mostly European and Russia-related news for The Talking Democrat.