Researchers have unearthed two abalone shells from a South African cave that they believe were used to produce and store a mixture of pigmented paint, and that possibly represent the first known use of containers. The discovery, released in the journal Science on Thursday, also indicates that as long as 100,000 years ago, humans had strategic planning skills and knew some basic chemistry.
Excavated from the Blombos cave near the southern Cape shore of the Indian Ocean in South Africa, the finding consists of two “toolkits” found side by side, containing fragments of ancient grinding, crushing and painting tools, along with the shells. All had residue of ochre, earth pigment derived from iron oxides and other natural minerals, which has been well-documented as a source of early colored paint. Read more.