Prehistoric ‘hashtag’ may be world’s oldest drawing: study

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This undated photo provided by Magnus M. Haaland in September 2018 shows researchers in the interior of the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. (AP)
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This undated photo provided by Craig Foster in September 2018 shows a drawing made with ochre pigment on silcrete stone, found in the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Prehistoric ‘hashtag’ may be world’s oldest drawing: study

  • The design pre-dates previously identified abstract drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years
  • It was found by researchers inside the Blombos Cave, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) east of Cape Town

PARIS: It may be a symbol of the Internet age but scientists in South Africa have found an ancient hashtag scrawled on a piece of rock that they believe is the world’s oldest “pencil” drawing.
The design, which archaeologists say was created around 73,000 years ago, pre-dates previously identified abstract drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years.
It was found by researchers inside the Blombos Cave, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) east of Cape Town, a site that contains evidence of some of the earliest instances of what humans today would call culture.
Previous expeditions to the cave found shell beads, engraved pieces of ochre and even tools manufactured from a rudimentary cement-like substance.
Among the artefacts was a small flake of silicate rock, onto which a three-by-six line cross-hatched pattern had been intentionally drawn in red ochre.
“Our microscopic and chemical analyzes of the pattern confirm that red ochre pigment was intentionally applied to the flake with an ochre crayon,” the team wrote in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
They said the pattern appearing on the fragment may have originally extended over a larger area and could have been “more complex in its entirety.”
Although there are far older known cave engravings, including one in Java that is at least half-a-million years old, the team of researchers said the Blombos Cave hashtag was the oldest known drawing.
“This reinforces the idea that drawing was something that existed in the minds of the hunter-gatherers,” Francesco d’Errico, a director of the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Bordeaux, told AFP.
While drawings such as the one unearthed in South Africa undoubtedly had a “symbolic meaning” d’Errico said early humans “probably didn’t consider them as art.”


Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

Updated 22 March 2019
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Where We Are Going Today: Shatllah

  • Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful

Do you need to add a little life and color to your surroundings? Houseplants are often said to be a source of positivity, and Shatllah has taken this concept to the next level.

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Shatllah’s creations make for perfect gifts, which is how I discovered the shop, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra’a district, while looking for a present for a friend who loves houseplants. I was so impressed with its wares that I ended up buying some for myself as well. After all, who would not rather have a living plant decorating their home rather than artificial flowers or other fake items?

Shatllah’s prices are reasonable, while the assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They are more than happy to offer advice on picking the perfect plant and how to take care of it when you get it home.