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Oldest known drawing of human hands Discovered in the South African cave

Nine red lines on a rocky stone found in a South African cave can be the earliest known drawing by Homo sapiens, archaeologists reported Wednesday. The artifact, which scientists believe is about 73,000 years old, precedes the oldest known modern human abstract drawings from Europe in about 30,000 years.

"We knew a lot of things Homo sapiens could do, but we did not know they could make drawings," says Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist from the University of Bergen in Norway and leading author of the study.

The find, published in Nature , can provide insight into the origin of humanity, which laid the foundation for language, mathematics and civilization.

The ancient drawing was settled in Blombos Cave, which lies approximately 200 miles east of Cape Town. Archaeological sites on the site are from 70,000 to 100,000 years ago during the Middle Ages. Inside the cave, researchers have discovered Homo sapiens teeth, spikes, bone tools, engraving and beads made of seashells.

Using a microscope, a laser and a scanning electron microscope, they decided that the marks were on top of the mountain and that they were made of red yokes, a type of natural pigment that was often used to make prehistoric cave paintings. In fact, ancient people in the Blombos Cave made primrose as far back as 100,000 years ago.

"Then we had to decide how they were doing these lines," says Dr. Van Niekerk. "Was they painted or drawn?"

They recreated the paint and then formed a wooden stick in a brush and made strokes similar to the sample. They also made an occasional and drawn lines. They then compared color marking and crayon with what they had seen on the artifact.

They decided that the old cross-sphere pattern was a drawing, not a painting, made with an oak-tip tip most likely to be measured only 1 to 3 millimeters in thickness.

To distinguish between a painting and a drawing is important, according to Dr Henshilwood, as ockra color batches can dry. It makes it less useful than an otter criticism used by an old man when he or she wanted to make symbols without breaking to mix color.

Dr. Henshilwood and his team also showed that the red lines were drawn on a level surface. It indicated that the flake once was part of a larger rock that the prehistoric people may have used to grind. They also showed that the original red lines probably stretched over what was seen on the stone flake before the grindstone was broken.

They can not say for sure what the purpose of the drawing was and whether it was just doodling or if it was a little more meaningful. But they have their guesses.