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Still Waters

100,000-year-old hashtag on Blombos Cave rock

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Still Waters

Some 52,000 to 109,000 years ago, an ancient human carved etchings onto red ochre stones in a South African cave. Looking at the markings found in the famed archaeological site of the Blombos Cave through a modern eye, the patterns almost appear to resemble a hashtag.

Was the prehistoric creator designing a work steeped in symbolic intent and tradition? It’s a tantalizing question, but as Michael Erard reports for Science, a new study, “The adaptive cognitive evolution of the Blombos and Diepkloof engravings” suggests that’s not the case. Instead, the markings appear to have been made as decoration or for enjoyment.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/100000-year-old-etchings-were-decorations-not-symbols-researchers-say-180968878/

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/100000-year-old-hashtag-first-human-symbol-or-just-pretty-decoration

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freetoroam

Hashtag? Jeeze, how did someone make that connection? Its lines, thats it. Be it for decoration or even the first noughts and crosses game, it sure is no hashtag.

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Kenemet

That's some excellent semiotics done in determining that it was a decoration and not a symbol.  It's nice to see good science behind a dramatic headline.

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bison

Those etchings were on red ochre stones. There may have been a treble purpose here. 1.) To scrape off powder for use in paints, for which there is other evidence at Blombos cave. 2.) To roughen the stone to facilitate further removal of ochre and 3.) To leave behind an artistic abstract design.    

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Skulduggery

I was in a grocery store once (I know, right?!!) and someone said something about a hashtag for some reason. A slightly older guy then commented that in his day, they called them pound signs. Then, another random guy standing nearby, probably in his 70s or 80s, commented that in his day, they called them octothorpes. I had to think that one over for a while and get my head straight, so I drove to a hotel and spent the night reevaluating life in the hotel pool.

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Jon the frog
On 4/25/2018 at 3:31 PM, bison said:

Those etchings were on red ochre stones. There may have been a treble purpose here. 1.) To scrape off powder for use in paints, for which there is other evidence at Blombos cave. 2.) To roughen the stone to facilitate further removal of ochre and 3.) To leave behind an artistic abstract design.    

Yep, red ochre stones mean they can be of use like you said, was the first thing coming in my mind when i read it , and they don't talk about etching on limestone or others...just red ochre stones.

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Harte

Looks like a map of ice-free Antarctica to me.

Harte

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jmccr8
7 hours ago, Jon the frog said:

Yep, red ochre stones mean they can be of use like you said, was the first thing coming in my mind when i read it , and they don't talk about etching on limestone or others...just red ochre stones.

Hi Jon

they also compared it with etchings on ostrich eggs that were 60-100 kbp so if under examination a repeated pattern can be identified then there is just as much reason to infer that they were deliberate. 

jmccr8

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Piney
On 4/25/2018 at 3:31 PM, bison said:

Those etchings were on red ochre stones. There may have been a treble purpose here. 1.) To scrape off powder for use in paints, for which there is other evidence at Blombos cave. 2.) To roughen the stone to facilitate further removal of ochre and 3.) To leave behind an artistic abstract design.    

The ones found in eastern North America on Koens-Crispin sites have etches in every different direction to make it easier to grind. I never saw one with any specific pattern. Just random grooves......of course Barry Fell would call this "Ogham".  :lol:

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stereologist

I think they were used to teach plotting.

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