Discovery of the most ancient pencil drawing

The most ancient example of abstract drawing, performed with ochre, has been discovered on a fragment of siliceous rock in archaeological layers dated 73 000 years before present, in the Blombos cave (South Africa). This fragment holds on one of its sides nine lines, willingly drawn with an ochre fine-point pencil. It precedes by at least 30 000 years the most ancient abstract drawings using the same technique known before. This discovery was published on September 12, 2018 in Nature by an international team involving tow French labs : Pacea(1) ans  Traces(2).

© D’Errico/Henshilwood/Nature

What is a symbol ? difficult question when the most ancient graphic designs has to be analyzed. Recent archaeological discoveries in Africa, Europe and Asia indicate an early use of symbols.

In this new article, researchers describe the most ancient known ochre pencil drawing. It was identified on a small piece of siliceous rock when analyzing rock tools from the Blombos cave in South Africa.

Sources :

CNRS – Communiqués de presse

An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Christopher S. Henshilwood, Francesco D’Errico, Karen L. van Niekerk, Laure Dayet, Alain Queffelec & Luca Pollarolo. 12 septembre 2018, Nature. DOI : 10.1038/s41586-018-0514-3

(1) laboratoire Pacea (CNRS/Université de Bordeaux/Ministère de la Culture)

(2) laboratoire Traces (CNRS/Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès/Ministère de la Culture)


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