Engraved Ocher Plaque from Blombos Cave, South Africa. The oldest artifact of mankind, 70th millennium BC. Found in the collection of Smithsonian Institution Archives. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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Drawing Discovered in South America May be Oldest Sketch Made by Humans

The red ocher markings are 73,000 years old.

Researchers believe they have found the oldest drawing in human history, created 73,000 years ago. According to a story in The New York Times, excavators found the drawing in the Blombos Cave in South Africa, and it predates sketches previously thought to be the world’s oldest by roughly 30,000 years.

The cave also contained various pieces of evidence of Home sapiens, from teeth to spear points, that confirm for researchers that no previous species made these drawings. The drawing is the work of a 1-3 millimeter red crayon of ocher, a material used in many prehistoric cave paintings. In appearance, the drawing is six straight, vaguely-parallel lines with a diagonal cross of three vaguely-curved lines.

The researchers, who published their findings in Nature, are not yet able to say whether the drawing represents an ancient form of doodling or something with a more international purpose. Regardless, the drawing is a major piece in the puzzle of humans’ early relationship with visual symbols.

Read the full story at The New York Times