Oldest Art Studio Found in South Africa’s Blombos Cave

October 15, 2011 / South Africa, Africa
South Africa's Blombos Cave

Photo via Cape Field School

The powder found inside two 100,000 year old abalone shells discovered within South Africa’s Blombos Cave are the oldest known evidence of an art workshop.

The bright red powder, the dried remains of a primitive paint, was made by combining a redish clay called ochre, crushed seal bones, charcoal, quartzite chips, and a liquid, likely water.

Near the shells archeologists from the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa found grindstones, hammerstones, animal bones and the remains of a fire pit.

Blombos Cave, which sits 35 meters (114 feet) up the side of a cliff on the southern tip of Africa, shows evidence that is has been inhabited off and on by humans for at least 140,000 years. Although the “studio” is only 100,000 years old, it predates the previous oldest workshop by 40,000 years.

Oldest “Art Studio” Found; Evidence of Early Chemistry [National Geographic]

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