And this Later Stone Age Bushmen artwork has influenced rock art study around the globe.
The rock art in questions is located at 14 sites in three different regions of Southern Africa: the Thune Dam, Botswana, the Phuthiatsana Valley, Lesotho and the Maclear District in South Africa.
When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee.
They may now be underwater, but the oldest rock art paintings in southern Africa are about 5,000 years old, far more ancient than previously realized, a new study finds.
The team used a technique known as accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating, which is similar to traditional radiocarbon data, but analyzes smaller fragments instead of the complete artifact.
By collecting samples of paint, researchers were able to identify the types of carbons in the pigments and ultimately date them as more than 5,000 years old – deeming the drawings the ‘earliest directly dated’ paintings in the region‘Research over the past 40 years has shown that the art is most productively and comprehensively explained as the material expression of the powers of ritual specialists (shamans) and of the wider cosmology within which those powers were exercised, often in altered states of consciousness,' reads the study publish in the Journal Antiquity.
Before a dam flooded a site replete with ancient rock art in Botswana, researchers nabbed fragments of the painted creations so that they could date them.
The team then developed a new method that isolated the original carbon from the paint — in this case, charcoal, soot and carbon black (a blend of burnt fat) — so they could determine the age with radiocarbon dating.
The Southern region of Africa is known for its rich and detailed collection of rock art left by ancient hunters and gathers, but as much as these creations are well-understood, their exact dates are not.
By collecting samples of paint, researchers were able to identify the types of carbons in the pigments and ultimately date them as more than 5,000 years old – deeming the drawings the ‘earliest directly dated’ paintings in the region.
As a senior writer for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment and amazing animals.