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Earliest known human drawing discovered in South African cave

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LONDON, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — Unlike the exquisite and elegant paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, the criss-crossed pattern on a fragment of rock is remarkable all the same, as it is believed to be the earliest known drawing in the world.

The discovery of the drawing at Blombos Cave, some 300 km east of Cape Town in South Africa, “pre-dates the earliest previously known abstract and figurative drawings by at least 30,000 years,” according to a new research by Nature, an international journal of science.

The 73,000-year-old drawing vaguely resembles a hashtag sign with several criss-crossed lines and was made with red ochre pigment, which has been used by homo genus for at least 285,000 years.

Researchers who unearthed the piece said the abstract drawing is “a prime indicator of modern cognition and behaviour” by early Homo Sapiens in southern Africa.

“It is definitely an abstract design and it almost certainly had some meaning to the maker, and it probably formed a part of the common symbolic system understood by other people in this group,” Christopher Henshilwood, a leader of the research team and archaeologist from the University of Bergen in Norway, told Reuters.

The rock with the drawing measures about 38.6 mm long and 12.8 mm wide.

“The abrupt termination of all lines on the fragment edges indicates that the pattern originally extended over a large surface. The pattern was probably more complex and structured in its entirety than in this truncated form,” Henshilwood added.

Numerous other artefacts were found in Blombos Cave, including beads covered in red ochre, engraved ochre fragments, and a paint-making kit dating back around 100,000 years.

Africa is considered to be the birthplace of modern man with Homo Sapiens first appearing there more than 170,000 years ago.

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