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really old art
September 12, 2018

Don't worry about your kids drawing on the walls. It turns out they're following an example that dates back 73,000 years.

Seven years after discovering a set of cross-hatched red marks on a piece of stone, scientists are ready to declare them the world's first drawing. First discovered in South Africa in 2011, the marks, called "L13," are ambiguous enough that they couldn't be sure whether they were naturally formed or purposefully scrawled. But after analyzing the materials that make up those marks, researchers have determined that they were put there by an early human.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the scientists explain that the marks were drawn using a red ochre "crayon." Although ochre was used for many things by ancient peoples, the nature of the markings are enough to determine that this was an artistic endeavor — humanity's first. The previous oldest-known drawings are about 9,000 years younger than this one, Gizmodo reported, though there are human-made engravings that go back even further.

L13 is just a few inches long, but judging by the way the marks cut off abruptly, researchers note that "the pattern was probably more complex and structured in its entirety." We may never know the original artist's vision for this drawing, but you can read more about L13 at Gizmodo. Shivani Ishwar

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