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An exceptional discovery of a sand sculpture dating back 130 thousand years

An exceptional discovery of a sand sculpture dating back 130 thousand years

This is a wonderful archaeological discovery. In the fossil sand dunes of South Africa, researchers discovered a piece of rock with the exact shape and dimensions of a stingray. The perfect symmetry of the piece indicates that it was a sculpture made in sand 130,000 years ago!

Who hasn't traced drawings or made pies in sandsand Wet from the beach? A childish game that our prehistoric ancestors would have played more than 100,000 years ago, as evidenced by these marks. ExcavationsExcavations Found in South Africa.

Because if cave art was most often represented by drawings drawn or engraved on rock walls, recent archaeological discoveries suggest that early artists simply traced patterns in beach sand. If many of these representations have to be erased by windswinds where is the waveswavesSome are fossilized in the heart of the sand dunes. This is how drawings were found dating back more than 70 thousand years Sedimentary rocksSedimentary rocks Called eolianite, it is nothing but sand dunes that have been compressed, cemented, and fossilized. These shapes deliberately drawn in the sand are called “ammoglyphs.” So far, it has only been found in the southern tip of Africa.

Too symmetrical in shape to be of natural origin

Triangles, circles, fans, parallel lines or more complex diagrams… Strange geometric shapes have been discovered on these surfaces representing an ancient beach, along with numerous human or animal footprints.

But in 2018, a team of researchers made a startling discovery. On the coast of Still Bay, a participant in the scientific mission picked up a piece of aeolianite with a shape resembling a stingray (Daciatis cresonata). Only the tail of the marine animal is partially missing.

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For researchers, the apparent symmetry of this piece of rock cannot be linked to chance. According to a recently published study In the magazine Rock art researchTherefore, it was originally a sand sculpture made by human hands. Parallel grooves as well as a cross appear on the ” behindbehind » of the animal and we notice a protrusion that makes us think of the beginning of the tail. The size of the painted image, about thirty centimetres, as well as its dimensions, are very similar to that of a stingray, indicating that it is a very faithful representation of the animal.

The oldest representation of an animal known to date

However, the interpretation should be taken with caution, in the opinion of the authors themselves. However, they put forward several arguments in its favour. The main factor is the combination of multiple levels of symmetry. Of course, symmetry is common in nature, but the combination of several levels indicates a human origin. Especially since previous research has shown that early humans loved symmetry and knew how to recognize it. decorated cave (Blombos Cave) also exists only 30 kilometers from the discovery site, which attests to occupation in the area at least 77,000 years ago.

It remains to be seen when this sand sculpture was made. Analysis of the surrounding rocks indicates that it dates back to the middle Stone Age, that is, 130 thousand years ago. In fact, it could be the oldest representation of an animal known to date. For reference, the oldest cave paintings in Europe date back to about 40,000 years ago, and they seem to have appeared suddenly. Can the 90,000-year interval between the image painted in South Africa and the first cave paintings be explained by the fact that for thousands of years humans mainly made their drawings on surfaces that did not allow their works to be preserved, such as sand? He drinksHe drinks Or leather?

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For researchers, it is very likely that our knowledge of the origin of art is effectively limited by observational bias associated with the lack of preservation of the first supports of the works. This is an amazing discovery that pushes back the origins of art in a very important way.