“Archaeologists found the marked stone fragment as they sifted through spear points and other material excavated at Blombos cave in South Africa. It has taken seven years of tests to conclude that a human made the lines with an ochre crayon 73,000 years ago.
“The simple red marks adorn a flake the size of two thumbnails which appears to have broken off a grindstone cobble used to turn lumps of ochre into paint powder. The lines end so abruptly at the fragment’s edges that researchers believe the cross-hatches were originally part of a larger design drawn on the cobble.
“This is first known drawing in human history,” said Francesco d’Errico, a researcher on the team at the University of Bordeaux. “What does it mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that what can look very abstract to us could mean something to the people in the traditional society who produced it.”