A red, crosshatched design adorning a rock from a South African cave may take the prize as the oldest known drawing.
Ancient humans sketched the line pattern around 73,000 years ago by running a chunk of pigment across a smoothed section of stone in Blombos Cave, scientists say.
Until now, the earliest drawings dated to roughly 40,000 years ago on cave walls in Europe and Indonesia.
His team noticed the ancient drawing while examining thousands of stone fragments and tools excavated in 2011 from cave sediment.
Microscopic and chemical analyses showed that the lines were composed of a reddish, earthy pigment known as ocher.
Previous evidence also suggested that ancient humans at the cave used pigment as a glue ingredient and possibly as a sunscreen.
“It is likely that further evidence for early symbolic behavior will be found in the very near future. »