Prehistoric ‘hashtag’ may be world’s oldest drawing: study

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This undated photo provided by Magnus M. Haaland in September 2018 shows researchers in the interior of the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. (AP)
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This undated photo provided by Craig Foster in September 2018 shows a drawing made with ochre pigment on silcrete stone, found in the Blombos Cave east of Cape Town, South Africa. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Prehistoric ‘hashtag’ may be world’s oldest drawing: study

  • The design pre-dates previously identified abstract drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years
  • It was found by researchers inside the Blombos Cave, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) east of Cape Town

PARIS: It may be a symbol of the Internet age but scientists in South Africa have found an ancient hashtag scrawled on a piece of rock that they believe is the world’s oldest “pencil” drawing.
The design, which archaeologists say was created around 73,000 years ago, pre-dates previously identified abstract drawings from Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years.
It was found by researchers inside the Blombos Cave, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) east of Cape Town, a site that contains evidence of some of the earliest instances of what humans today would call culture.
Previous expeditions to the cave found shell beads, engraved pieces of ochre and even tools manufactured from a rudimentary cement-like substance.
Among the artefacts was a small flake of silicate rock, onto which a three-by-six line cross-hatched pattern had been intentionally drawn in red ochre.
“Our microscopic and chemical analyzes of the pattern confirm that red ochre pigment was intentionally applied to the flake with an ochre crayon,” the team wrote in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
They said the pattern appearing on the fragment may have originally extended over a larger area and could have been “more complex in its entirety.”
Although there are far older known cave engravings, including one in Java that is at least half-a-million years old, the team of researchers said the Blombos Cave hashtag was the oldest known drawing.
“This reinforces the idea that drawing was something that existed in the minds of the hunter-gatherers,” Francesco d’Errico, a director of the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Bordeaux, told AFP.
While drawings such as the one unearthed in South Africa undoubtedly had a “symbolic meaning” d’Errico said early humans “probably didn’t consider them as art.”


Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

Updated 20 min 29 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

  • Dammam Corniche event celebrates Saudi heritage; more ‘seasons’ to come
  • The festival is being held at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free

DAMMAM: People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have had no shortage of things to do during the Sharqiah Season. From pop concerts featuring international artists to massive sporting events, there is something for everyone among the 83 different events planned.

However, it would be remiss not to celebrate the heritage and culture of the country itself. The Enter East Coast Festival, an open-air marketplace with plenty of activities for locals and tourists to enjoy.

The festival is being held along the Dammam Corniche, at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free.

It features stalls with craftsmen beavering away. At one, a potter is bent over a wheel as he makes vases, lanterns and small toys. At another, carpenters fashion chairs and tables out of planks of wood. A weaver hums as he plaits together palm fronds to form baskets and fans.

The vendors are mostly from Saudi Arabia, but there are other countries showcasing their work too. 

Fishermen and sailors from Oman display pearls still in their shells, delicate replicas of traditional fishing boats, and stretches of fishing net. The stalls from Kuwait feature items from the past and vendors from Bahrain offer local sweets, handmade items and clothing.

There are Saudi dances and musical performances too. One stage, resembling a ship, features performers dressed as sailors singing traditional sea shanties. Another stage has drummers and a singer. A huge area in the middle of the space is allotted to dancers, flag-bearers, and even armed officers participating in a traditional Ardah, or Saudi dance.

Those looking to eat something can chow down on Saudi offerings including jareesh, margoog, or qursan. There are food trucks selling Western fare such as burgers and tacos. 

The festival runs until March 30, when the Sharqiah Season ends. 

The season is a collaborative effort between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. It is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country for 2019.

Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city, and different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Decoder

What is Sharqiah Season?

The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Read our reports on the Sharqiah Season festival here: http://www.arabnews.com/tags/sharqiah-season