Toolkit 'shows evolution of cognition'

2011-10-14 21:06
Cape Town - Scientists have discovered what could be evidence of elementary knowledge of chemistry and technological development during the Middle Stone Age.

An ochre tool kit and workshop were found in Stilbaai, Western Cape by Professor Christopher Henshilwood of the Institute for Human Evolution at Wits University.

"The recovery of these tool kits adds evidence for early technological and behavioural developments associated with humans and documents their deliberate planning, production and curation of pigmented compound and the use of containers."

Ochre is a term used to describe an earth rock or a rock with red or yellow oxides or hydroxides of iron.

Complex human cognition

The ochre mixture - estimated to be 100 000 years old - was found stored in two perlemoen (abalone) shells at Blombas Cave near Cape Town.

The tool kits which contained ochre, bone, charcoal, grindstone and hammerstones were possibly used for decoration, painting and skin protection. The process involved rubbing pieces of ochre on quartzite slabs to make a fine red powder.

Henshilwood said the grinding and scraping of ochre to make a powder used for pigmentation was common practice in Africa about 100 000 years ago. "Ochre may have been applied with symbolic intent as decoration on bodies and clothing during the Middle Stone Age."

The discovery of the tool kits was an important benchmark in the evolution of complex human cognition, said Henshilwood.

"It shows that humans had the conceptual ability to source, combine and store substances that were then possibly used to enhance their social practices," the professor said.

There will be a display of the findings at the Iziko South Africa Museum in Cape Town on October 14.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    cape town  |  archaeology  |  science

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Woodcock's career ended by injury
Major Payne as Ireland lose star centre
LIVE: Samoa 26 Scotland 23
Jones: Japan can be 'team of the tournament'
Traffic Alerts

The phrase for today is:”Out of the blue.” Expect the unexpected and work with the changeable energy. Your intuition is more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.