The Atlantic

An Ancient Crosshatch May Be the Earliest Drawing Ever Found

Red lines on a 73,000-year-old rock predate other ancient drawings by at least 30,000 years.
Source: Craig Foster

Around 73,000 years ago, in a cave now known as Blombos, someone took a pointed lump of iron-rich rock—ochre—and dragged its tip across another rock, leaving behind a pattern of red, crosshatched strokes. The identity of the marks’ creator is unknown. Their intentions are unclear. But the red marks still persist on a 1.5-inch-long piece of stone, discovered by a team of researchers led by Christopher Henshilwood from the University of Bergen. If Henshilwood’s interpretation of the marks’ origins is correct, they make up the oldest abstract drawing ever found, predating the previous record holders by at least 30,000 years.

“It doesn’t make the … people of Blombos Cave artists, but it suggests that they started

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