Looking a bit like the current hashtag, the tiny sketch discovered by scientists in a South African cave is 73000 years old and it is, for now at least, the oldest known drawing. While not being the earliest deliberate design, because there are some abstract engravings which are far older, this drawing shows that early humans that populated the southern part of Africa were able of producing various designs on different surfaces by using various techniques.
The collection of drawings was found inside the Blombos Cave which can be found at approximately 300 kilometers from Cape Town. These crisscrossed lines are almost 30000 years older than any other drawing known to man. The findings were published by researches in Nature this Wednesday.
A sharpened flake of ochre was used for the creation of these lines, which is a pigment that was widely used in ancient times, according to Christopher Henshilwood from Norway’s University of Bergen. The drawing consists of six red lines which are crossed by three others, these ones being slightly curved.
The drawing was made on a tiny flake of mineral crust which measures only 39 millimeters long and 15 millimeters tall. Evidently, it represents a part of a larger drawing, researchers say, because the lines reaching the edge cut off abruptly. Henshilwood said that, apparently, the drawing was made before the flake was struck off a grinding stone to make ochre powder.
There are other similar patterns engraved in various artifacts from the cave and this hashtag design was widely produced in rock art and paintings over the past 100000 years so that’s why this latest found sketch isn’t so random in nature as it may seem to us.