Archaeologists discover world’s oldest paint shop

A group of Home sapiens came across a picturesque cave on the coast of South Africa around 100,000 years ago. They unloaded their gear and set to work, grinding iron-rich dirt and mixing it gently with heated bone in abalone shells to create a red, paint-like mixture. Then they dipped a thin bone into the mixture to transfer it somewhere before leaving the cave — and their toolkits — behind…

Researchers now have uncovered those paint-making kits, sitting in the cave in a layer of dune sand, just where they had been left 100,000 years ago. The find is the oldest-known example of a human-made compound mixture, said study researcher Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. It’s also the first known example of the use of a container anywhere in the world, 40,000 years older than the next example, Henshilwood told LiveScience.

Along with the toolkits, Henshilwood said, the archaeology team found pieces of ocher, or colored clay, etched with abstract designs…

This cave, now known as Blombos Cave, has been under excavation since 1992. The cave clearly was used as a shelter for tens of thousands of years of human history, with younger rock layers yielding evidence of cooking fires and food remains.

Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, told LiveScience in an email: “Since ocher-rich compounds have several potential applications, it is necessary to conduct experiments to test the effectiveness of the ancient recipe as paint, adhesive or another product…”

The combination of ingredients may not tell researchers how the ancient mixture was used, but other items reveal how it was made. Along with the shells and ocher were assorted bone fragments, including the scapula of a seal, and a number of quartzite stones that had been used to grind the ocher down…

RTFA. Archaeologists keep learning of hominid achievements earlier than we used to think possible. And that includes upgrading the complexity and sophistication of those achievements.

I have nothing but pride in learning of our antecedents. Folks who fear evolution and crap their drawers over African origins? Well, they can stick with ignorance and superstition.

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