Zigzag Etched On Ancient Shell May Be World’s Oldest Art

zigzag marking

Art may be a lot older than we ever imagined.

In 2009, scientists working in South Africa were stunned to discover rocks that bore engravings made by humans around 100,000 years ago.

But those etchings seem practically modern compared to the zigzag design carved on the surface of a mollusk shell that researchers recently stumbled upon while rummaging through a set of fossils collected in Indonesia in the late 1800s.

The geometrical engraving is believed to date back 430,000 to 540,000 years, making it the oldest such artifact ever found.

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The zigzag marking found on an ancient mollusk shell.

The design was likely made using a shark tooth while the shell was still fresh from the water, so that it once appeared like white lines on a black background. The researchers believe it was the work of a Homo erectus.

Homo erectus is an extinct hominid species that lived from around 1.9 million years ago to about 150,000 years ago.

Finding such an ancient artifact is pretty spectacular in its own right. But the find also suggests Homo erectus may have been smarter than previously thought, the researchers say.

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