Extraordinary discovery of 130,000-year-old sand sculpture

This is an interesting archaeological find. In South Africa’s Fossil Dunes, researchers have discovered a rock fragment with the exact shape and dimensions of a stingray. The perfect symmetry of the object suggests that it was a sculpture made in sand 130,000 years ago!

Who has never invented a drawing or made a pie SandSand Wet from the beach? A childish game that could have been played by our prehistoric ancestors more than 100,000 years ago, evidenced by these traces. remainsremains Found in South Africa.

Because while cave art is often represented by pictures painted or carved on rock walls, recent archaeological discoveries suggest that the first artists traced patterns in beach sand. If many of these representations were to be deleted the windthe wind where glovesgloves, were fossilized in the heart of some mounds. In this way drawings dating back more than 70,000 years have been found Sedimentary rocksSedimentary rocks Called eolianite, it is nothing more than a sand dune that has been compacted, cemented and lithified. These figures drawn deliberately in the sand are called “ammoglyphs”. So far, they have only been found in the Southern Cape of Africa.

A shape that is too symmetrical to be of natural origin

Triangles, circles, fans, parallel lines or more complex figures… Strange geometric figures have been found on these surfaces which represent ancient beaches with numerous human or animal footprints.

But in 2018, a team of researchers made a surprising discovery. On the shores of Still Bay, one of the participants in the scientific mission spotted a stingray (Dacytis chrysonata). Only the sea creature’s tail is partially missing.

For researchers, the very pronounced symmetry of this piece of rock cannot be attributed to chance. According to a study recently published in the journal Rock art research, so it would originally be a sand sculpture made by human hands. Parallel grooves as well as crosses appear on the “. backback ยป of the animal and we note a projection which makes us think of the beginning of the tail. The size of the ammoglyph, about thirty centimeters, as well as its proportions, are strikingly similar to those of a stingray, suggesting that it is a very faithful representation of the animal.

The oldest representation of an animal known to date

However, according to the authors, interpretation should be taken with caution. However, they presented several arguments in its favor. The main one is a combination of multiple levels of symmetry. Of course, symmetry is common in nature, but the combination of several layers suggests a human origin. Especially since previous research has shown that early humans liked and knew how to recognize symmetry. Decorated cave (Blombos Kev) are also present only 30 kilometers from the discovery site, testifying to occupation in the region at least 77,000 years ago.

It remains to be seen when this sand sculpture is made. Analysis of the surrounding rocks suggests that it dates back to the middle of the Stone Age, or 130,000 years ago. In fact, it may be the oldest representation of the animal known to date. For context, the oldest cave paintings in Europe date back to around 40,000 years ago and appear to have emerged suddenly. Could the 90,000-year gap between South African ammoglyphs and the first cave paintings be explained by the fact that for millennia, humans mainly traced their drawings on surfaces that did not allow for preservation? to drinkto drink Or leather?

For researchers, it is very likely that our knowledge of the provenance of art is effectively limited by observational bias associated with the non-preservation of works’ first provenance. This is a surprising discovery that pushes back the origins of art quite significantly.


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