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

Science  14 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6053, pp. 219-222
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211535

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Abstract

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 ago. Ochre, bone, charcoal, grindstones, and hammerstones form a composite part of this production toolkit. The application of the mixture is unknown, but possibilities include decoration and skin protection.

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