Oldest African rock painting discovery, 73,000 years old

Late last year, archaeologists working in the Blombos Cave in South Africa published findings regarding what is now the oldest rock painting discovered, in the journal Nature. The painting comprises several hashed lines drawn by ochre pencil on a piece of rock dated to 73,000 years ago. The lines were possibly part of a larger work of art. Previous excavations in Blombos Cave have revealed an ochre paint processing laboratory, and other evidence of symbolic thinking and practice in the form of an etched piece of ochre, and ochre painted shell beads. This discovery sets the earliest date of rock art by Homo sapiens back several decades, and reconfirms the birthplace of Homo sapiens' symbolic faculties, as of Homo sapiens herself, to be in Africa.

Ochre drawing on rock found in Blombos Cave. Photo: Craig Foster

Read more about the finding in the Business Insider here and an interview with archaeologist Chris Henshilwood on the Conversation here.