Scientists discovered a 73,000-year-old drawing that may be the world’s oldest.

Alex Wexelman
Sep 13, 2018 3:56PM, via National Geographic

The ocher-marked stone flake recently discovered in Blombos Cave. Photo courtesy and © Craig Foster.

Archeologists in South Africa have discovered what they believe to be the earliest known drawing. Some seventy-three thousand years before Instagram or Twitter, an early human scrawled a hashtag-like doodle into a piece of stone.

The newly discovered sketch predates the previously earliest known pieces of cave art—which were discovered in Indonesia and Spain—by some 30,000 years, according to a report the researchers published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The inch-and-a-half-long silcrete flake adorned with red ocher marks, which is believed to be a part of a larger design, was uncovered in Blombos Cave, which lies 185 miles east of Cape Town.

Sadly, even struggling early homo sapiens have to prove their worth in the harsh art world. “We don’t know that it’s art at all. We know that it’s a symbol,” Christopher Henshilwood, the paper’s lead author and an archaeologist who heads the Center for Early Sapiens Behavior at the University of Bergen in Norway, told National Geographic. “Art is a very hard thing to define. Look at some of Picasso’s abstracts. Is that art? Who’s going to tell you it’s art or not?”

Alex Wexelman
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