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A shell etched by Homo erectus is by far the oldest engraving ever found, challenging what we know about the origin of art and complex human thought
THE artist – if she or he can be called that – was right-handed and used a shark's tooth. They had a remarkably steady hand and a strong arm. Half a million years ago, on the banks of a calm river in central Java, they scored a deep zigzag into a clam shell.
We will never know what was going on inside its maker's head, but the tidy, purposeful line (pictured above right) has opened a new window into the origins of our modern creative mind.
It was found etched into the shell of a fossilised freshwater clam, and is around half a million years old – making the line by far the oldest engraving ever found. The date also means it was made two to three hundred thousand years before our own species evolved, by a more ancient hominin, Homo erectus.
Link thanks to Mick Clancy, who usually posts excellent landscape photos.
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