Via Smithsonian magazine, here’s the Earliest Known Artist’s Studio.
Call it an early artist’s studio or a primitive chemist’s lab: Last week scientists announced the discovery of a 100,000-year-old paint-processing workshop in a cave in South Africa, where early humans stored paint mixtures in shell containers. The finding demonstrates that our ancestors had some basic understanding of chemistry and a capacity for long-term planning at this early point in our species’ history, the researchers reported in Science.
As you all know, “anatomically modern humans” have been around for about 200,000 years. But until recently, it was thought that we didn’t become “behaviorally” human (ie. having culture and art and stuff) until 70,000 years ago. Finds like this extend the human story farther into the past.
For a sense of scale, the beginning of Western civilization is often set at the invention of cuneiform writing in Mesopotamia, a mere 6,000 years ago. But by that point, the story had been going on for at least 94,000 years.