The 73,000-year-old crayon-like sketch depicting six red lines crossed by other three curved lines found in a cave in Africa is the world’s most ancient cave painting ever seen, so far.
However, this one is far from being the earliest engraving in the world since some abstract sketches found in several places around the world are much older. But this 73,000-year-old drawing is only the oldest one of the deliberate cave paintings humans used to make on different surfaces using specific techniques.
The sketch was discovered in the Blombos Cave about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town and, according to the researchers, it is by at least 30,000 years older than any other similar drawing.
As reported by Christopher Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway, the world’s most ancient cave painting was made with a sharp piece of ochre which is a very common pigment, broadly used by ancient humans for various purposes, including the creations of illustrations.
The world’s most ancient cave painting is not showing much more than a few crossed lines
The oldest drawing in the world depicts six reddish lines crossed by three other slightly curved marks. The painting was made on a tiny flake of mineral crust of only 15 millimeters tall and 39 millimeters long. However, according to the researchers, the piece is part of a vaster painting which, unfortunately, has been destroyed over the time.
“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,” said Christopher Henshilwood.
The discovery is a clear proof that ancient humans were storing information outside their mind, supporting the hypothesis that our distant ancestors behaved pretty much like us.
“It further shows how rich and complex human behavior already was 73,000 years ago,” said Silvia Bello, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London.