It looks like humans were drawing hashtags up to 100,000 years ago

Picture: Magnus Haaland

The picture above could be 100,000 years old.

It was found in Blombos Cave, on the southern coast of South Africa, east of Cape Town, on a bit of rock.

The red, cross-hatched pattern of six lines by three lines is being shopped around as a “hashtag”.

We get it. It’s important that your academic research press release reaches as many media outlets as possible.

But a “hashtag”? Have another look.

Maybe, if you squint. And consider that 100,000 years ago, when human names maxxed out at two letters long, drawing with crayons was cutting edge technology.

So they may have been trying to draw a hashtag, but let’s not let that argument detract from an otherwise remarkable finding.

Christopher Henshilwood and colleagues from a joint team from the University of Bergen, Norway and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa found the drawing, done with “a pointed ochre crayon with a tip around 1–3 millimetres in width”, in this cave that has so far turned out an large array of early human artefacts dated to between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago:

Picture: Magnus Haaland

Among them, shell beads, engraved pieces of ochre and tools manufactured from pre-heated silicrete. The drawing was found on a silicrete flake that had been ground smooth.

As the lines break off suddenly at the edge of the flake, the team believes it is possibly part of a larger piece of artwork.

Picture: Magnus Haaland

Most importantly of all, the finding pre-dates previously identified abstract and figurative drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years.

#ThatsIncredible

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