Research press release





今回、Christopher Henshilwoodたちの研究グループは、研削されて表面が滑らかになったシルクリートの薄片に6本の線と3本の線による斜交平行模様が、赤色オーカー顔料で意図的に描かれていたことを発見したと報告している。これらの線は、薄片の端で途切れており、もっと大きな薄片上に描かれた模様の一部であったことが示唆されており、模様全体は、もっと複雑なものであった可能性がある。Henshilwoodたちは、この模様を再現する実験を行い、その結果に基づいて、先端の幅が約1~3ミリメートルというとがったオーカークレヨンを使って描かれたという結論を導き出した。


The earliest known drawing in history - a red, cross-hatched pattern - has been unearthed in South Africa, reports a study published online this week in Nature.

Blombos Cave, located on the southern coast of South Africa, east of Cape Town, is a site that contains some of earliest known evidence of behaviourally modern human cultural activity. The cave has furnished an abundance of early human artefacts dated to between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago, including shell beads, engraved pieces of ochre and tools manufactured from pre-heated silicrete - a fine-grained cemented form of sand and gravel.

Christopher Henshilwood and colleagues report the discovery of a ground-smooth silicrete flake onto which a six-by-three-lined cross-hatched pattern has been intentionally drawn in red ochre. The abrupt termination of the lines at the edge of the flake suggests that the pattern originally extended over a larger surface, and may have been more complex in its entirety. Based on experiments recreating the pattern, the authors conclude that the drawing was made with a pointed ochre crayon with a tip around 1-3 millimetres in width.

The drawing - which was unearthed from the same 73,000 year-old sediments in the cave that previously yielded the engraved ochre pieces - pre-dates previously identified abstract and figurative drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years. The finding, the authors conclude, demonstrates the ability of early Homo sapiens in southern Africa to make graphic designs in various media using different techniques.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0514-3

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