These historic sand drawings could possibly be a fifth sort of palaeoart

TAKE a forked stick and plant one of many prongs in sand. Flip it like a compass and you’ll etch an ideal circle, as demonstrated (above) on a South African seashore by Charles Helm of the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience in Gqeberha.

It’s a pure human impulse to attract within the sand, and it appears our ancestors had been feeling the identical drive at the very least 136,000 years in the past. In 2018, Helm found an ideal circle with a central despair on a slab of sandstone (pictured above) within the Backyard Route Nationwide Park. This space is thought for traces of early Homo sapiens, together with rock artwork and the oldest footprint discovered (pictured under), which dates again about 150,000 years.

The slab was as soon as the floor of a coastal sand flat that has since solidified into rock. Helm has found different patterns in the identical outcrop that would have been made by folks, together with grooves, cross-hatches, parallel strains and an ideal triangle (pictured under). The colored photos symbolize the depth of the impressions.

Helm dominated out pure causes resembling wind, water, non-human animals or vegetation, and was left with one risk – they had been made deliberately by folks, although they in all probability didn’t imply a lot. “I prefer to suppose it’s children taking part in round,” says Helm.

He says these sand drawings ought to be classed as a fifth sort of palaeoart, after cave work (pictographs), rock engravings (petroglyphs), photos carved on timber (dendroglyphs) and preparations of rocks or earth (geoglyphs). The title he proposes is ammoglyphs, after ammos, the Greek phrase for sand.


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