A 100,000-Year-Old Ochre-Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa

  title={A 100,000-Year-Old Ochre-Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa},
  author={C. Henshilwood and F. d’Errico and Karen L. van Niekerk and Y. Coquinot and Z. Jacobs and S. Lauritzen and M. Menu and R. Garc{\'i}a-Moreno},
  pages={219 - 222}
Early humans mixed and stored ochre pigments in shells 100,000 years ago, an indication of the emergence of higher planning. 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. Excavations in 2008 at Blombos Cave, South Africa, revealed a processing workshop where a liquefied ochre-rich mixture was produced and stored in two Haliotis midae (abalone) shells 100,000 years… Expand
An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa
This cross-hatched pattern drawn with an ochre crayon on a ground silcrete flake recovered from approximately 73,000-year-old Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa demonstrates the ability of early Homo sapiens in southern Africa to produce graphic designs on various media using different techniques. Expand
Thinking strings: additional evidence for personal ornament use in the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
Contextual information, morphometric, technological and use-wear analysis, coupled with experimental reproduction of wear patterns, allow us to reconstruct the most probable way in which the N. kraussianus shells were strung at Blombos Cave. Expand
Ochre use at Sibudu Cave and its link to complex cognition in the Middle Stone Age
Ochre pieces were used experimentally for a variety of grinding, scoring and rubbing activities to record and compare the use-wear markings that each activity creates on the ochre piece. Ochre thatExpand
Characterising pigments on 30 000-year-old portable art from Apollo 11 Cave, Karas Region, southern Namibia
Abstract As an unambiguous indication of complex cognitive capacity, representational art presents explicit evidence for modern and symbolic human behaviour. The only examples of African figurativeExpand
Recognizing Complex Cognition through Innovative Technology in Stone Age and Palaeolithic Sites
  • L. Wadley
  • Psychology
  • Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2013
Cognitive complexity is defined here as the capacity for abstract thought, analogical reasoning, cognitive fluidity, innovative thought, complex goal-directed actions, flexibility in problem-solving,Expand
Middle Stone Age Ochre Processing and Behavioural Complexity in the Horn of Africa: Evidence from Porc-Epic Cave, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
It is argued that the ochre reduction sequences identified at Porc-Epic Cave reflect a high degree of behavioural complexity, and represent o chre use, which was probably devoted to a variety of functions. Expand
Ochre and pigment use at Hohle Fels cave: Results of the first systematic review of ochre and ochre-related artefacts from the Upper Palaeolithic in Germany
The first in-depth study of the diachronic changes in ochre use throughout an entire Upper Palaeolithic sequence at Hohle Fels cave, Germany, spanning from ca. Expand
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Comparative studies with macaques and chimpanzees indicate how the left-sided fronto-temporal language circuits might have evolved in modern humans. In particular, tractographic findings show aExpand
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The debate regarding the status of the Blombos ochre engravings and shell beads for gauging the timeline of when cognitive abilities and symbolic intent appeared has been controversial. This isExpand
The visual brain and the early depiction of animals in Europe and Southeast Asia
Abstract The recent discovery that iconic depictions in caves on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi are more ancient than those from Upper Palaeolithic Europe raises questions as to when such imagesExpand


Engraved ochres from the Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
Powerful categories of evidence for symbolically mediated behaviour, variously described as 'modern' or 'cognitively modern' human behaviour, are geometric or iconographic representations. AfterExpand
Implications for complex cognition from the hafting of tools with compound adhesives in the Middle Stone Age, South Africa
Compound adhesives made from red ochre mixed with plant gum were used in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa and this ability suggests overlap between the cognitive abilities of modern people and people in the MSA. Expand
Optical dating of dune sand from Blombos Cave, South Africa: I--multiple grain data.
The aeolian sand and two other remnants of the sand dune formed against the coastal cliff were dated using optical dating to provide a minimum age for the Middle Stone Age material at Blombos Cave. Expand
Extending the chronology of deposits at Blombos Cave, South Africa, back to 140 ka using optical dating of single and multiple grains of quartz.
The periods of occupation were determined by changes in sea level, with abundant sources of seafood available in times of high sea level and with the cave being closed by the accumulation of large dunes during periods of low sealevel, such as during oxygen isotope stages 4 and 6. Expand
This paper presents the first TL dates for burnt quartzites and silcretes from the Still Bay layers of Blombos Cave (South Africa). These layers contained engraved ochres and marine shell beads thatExpand
Blombos Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa : Preliminary report on the 1992-1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels
The Later- and Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave (BBC) were excavated over four field seasons between 1992 and 1999. Here we report on the results from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) levels. TheExpand
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Prehistoric archaeology provides the temporal depth necessary for understanding the evolution of the unique human ability to construct and use complex symbol systems. The longstanding focus onExpand
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Age ages for nine sites from varied climatic and ecological zones across southern Africa show that both industries were short-lived (5000 years or less), separated by about 7000 years, and coeval with genetic estimates of population expansion and exit times. Expand
The pigments from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, Western Cape, South Africa.
  • Ian Watts
  • Medicine, Geology
  • Journal of human evolution
  • 2010
It is concluded that the material was processed to produce saturated red pigment powders, presumed to have served primarily as body paints in ritual performance. Expand
New ages for the post-Howiesons Poort late and final Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa
Abstract Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) measurements are reported for single grains of quartz from deposits within Sibudu rock shelter. Such measurements enable rejection of unrepresentativeExpand