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Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio

 
Bathtub Shitter
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User ID: 1527790
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10/14/2011 02:41 PM
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Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio
In a tiny South African cave, archaeologists have unearthed a 100,000-year-old art studio that contains tools for mixing powder from red and yellow rocks with animal fat and marrow to make vibrant paints as well as abalone shells full of dried-out red pigment, the oldest paint containers ever found.

The discovery, described in Friday's edition of the journal Science, suggests that humans may have been thinking symbolically — more like modern-day humans think — much earlier than previously recognized, experts said. Symbolic thinking could have been a key evolutionary step in the development of other quintessentially human abilities, such as language, art and complex ritual.

The artifacts were uncovered at a well-studied site called the Blombos Cave, which sits by the edge of the Indian Ocean about 180 miles east of Cape Town. The two shells, lying about 6 inches from each other, had a red residue from a soft, grindable stone known as ochre. Ochre is rich in iron compounds that usually give it red or yellow hues, and it is known to have been used in ancient paints. A residual stain line in one of the shells indicated that the mixture had at one time been wet, rather like the brown ring left around the edge of a coffee cup that's been sitting out for too long.

Previous finds had established that early humans made paint to adorn walls and decorate artifacts. But the suite of intact tools and ingredients found in the studio was a rare find that suggested a degree of planning and a basic knowledge of chemistry.

"In general we find pigment," said study coauthor Francesco d'Errico, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux in France. "But you never find the container with the residue. We were able to study microscopically all the elements in the recipe."

Along with ground-up red ochre, the mixtures contained charcoal and crushed spongy bones that were probably once rich in fat and marrow. The team also found rock fragments from the grinding stones that were used to make the mixture. One of the stones had remnants of a yellow pigment, perhaps from a previous batch of paint, that was not present in the reddish batches from the abalone shells.

By measuring the damage to quartz sediments caused by radioactive isotopes in the soil around the ochre containers, researchers were able to calculate that the paint tool kits were about 100,000 years old.


[link to www.latimes.com]
"Naturally I drew register a little exaggerated, in order to create something new in the sense of a sublime literature that sings of despair only in order to oppress the reader, and make him desire the good as the remedy."

"When I write down my thoughts, they do not escape me. This action makes me remember my strength which I forget at all times. I educate myself proportionately to my captured thought. I aim only to distinguish the contradiction between my mind and nothingness."

“Ever wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?”
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1071156
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10/14/2011 02:43 PM
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Re: Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio
In a tiny South African cave, archaeologists have unearthed a 100,000-year-old art studio that contains tools for mixing powder from red and yellow rocks with animal fat and marrow to make vibrant paints as well as abalone shells full of dried-out red pigment, the oldest paint containers ever found.

The discovery, described in Friday's edition of the journal Science, suggests that humans may have been thinking symbolically — more like modern-day humans think — much earlier than previously recognized, experts said. Symbolic thinking could have been a key evolutionary step in the development of other quintessentially human abilities, such as language, art and complex ritual.

The artifacts were uncovered at a well-studied site called the Blombos Cave, which sits by the edge of the Indian Ocean about 180 miles east of Cape Town. The two shells, lying about 6 inches from each other, had a red residue from a soft, grindable stone known as ochre. Ochre is rich in iron compounds that usually give it red or yellow hues, and it is known to have been used in ancient paints. A residual stain line in one of the shells indicated that the mixture had at one time been wet, rather like the brown ring left around the edge of a coffee cup that's been sitting out for too long.

Previous finds had established that early humans made paint to adorn walls and decorate artifacts. But the suite of intact tools and ingredients found in the studio was a rare find that suggested a degree of planning and a basic knowledge of chemistry.

"In general we find pigment," said study coauthor Francesco d'Errico, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux in France. "But you never find the container with the residue. We were able to study microscopically all the elements in the recipe."

Along with ground-up red ochre, the mixtures contained charcoal and crushed spongy bones that were probably once rich in fat and marrow. The team also found rock fragments from the grinding stones that were used to make the mixture. One of the stones had remnants of a yellow pigment, perhaps from a previous batch of paint, that was not present in the reddish batches from the abalone shells.

By measuring the damage to quartz sediments caused by radioactive isotopes in the soil around the ochre containers, researchers were able to calculate that the paint tool kits were about 100,000 years old.


[link to www.latimes.com]
 Quoting: Bathtub Shitter

Thats pretty cool. Especially since the planet they inhabit wont be created for another 94,000 years.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1500911
10/16/2011 04:33 PM
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Re: Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio
If the mixtures contained charcoal, why couldn't they date that?

Good find.

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