Mysterious Ancient Symbol Discovered in African Cave
by Makya Rodriguez, age 16
In the Blombos Cave of South Africa, scientists have discovered markings that show a hashtag-shaped marking. These markings date back to around 72,000 years ago. The hashtag symbol is used in a different manner in our modern world; it’s used to symbolize feelings, protest and it’s a way to organize and find content on social media.
The hashtag-like symbol in the Blombos Cave was discovered in 2011 on silcrete flakes. Although the markings on these flakes don’t have the same meaning as today’s hashtags, they are believed to be a form of ancient abstract art.
Ever since the start of excavations in 1991, scientists have made continuous discoveries in the Blombos Cave. The discoveries and artifacts are from various periods, and so are the silcrete flakes with the “hashtag” markings. After further research, scientists concluded that ochre, a natural pigment, was used to draw the hashtag-like markings. Additionally, ochre was used in other forms of art such as tattoos, paint for clay, and perhaps in medicine.
The artifacts came from the Middle Stone Age 100,000 - 72,000 years ago and the Later Stone Age 42,000 - 2,000 years BCE.
Even though hashtags don't hold the same meaning as they did thousands of years ago, they’ve always had a connection to feelings and emotions. Hashtags today can express thoughts and passions in much the same way that art can. This could mean that throughout history humans have used hashtags to express themselves.
[Sources: Scientific American; Associated Press]