JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The oldest known art studio has been discovered in South Africa's Blombos Cave by archeologists excavating the artifact-rich site.
The discovery of ancient paint supplies, dating back to 100,000 years ago, is evidence of the oldest known art production workshop, according to a study published in the journal Science.
Scientists found bright red pigment, called ochre, inside two abalone shells in the cave, which is located along South Africa's Southern Cape coast, about 185 miles east of Cape Town. Researchers described the finding, which also includes bone, charcoal, grindstones, and hammer stones, as a "production toolkit."
"The conceptual ability to source, combine and store substances that enhance technology or social practices represents a benchmark in the evolution of complex human cognition," the researchers wrote.
"The application of the mixture is unknown, but possibilities include decoration and skin protection."
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Blombos Cave is a famous archeological site dating to the African Middle Stone Age, with the earliest findings said to be from 140,000 years ago. Scientists have found a diverse range of artifacts at the limestone cave, from 70,000-year-old pieces of ochre to beads and bone tools.