Birth of bling: world’s first art studio found in South Africa

Infamous street artist Banksy’s precursors have been found in South Africa. Lord Jim

Birth of bling: world’s first art studio found in South Africa

Infamous street artist Banksy’s precursors have been found in South Africa. Lord Jim

Could we have found the first artist’s studio in human history? We may well have.

We all recognise the material signs of wealth. Fast cars, large yachts and sparkling bling all tell us who has more. Crowns, insignia, mayoral gowns are material signs of rank or status.

Archaeologists have long pondered when these public displays of social difference first occurred. Emerging evidence suggests the antiquity of public symbolism is surprisingly great.

Indeed, the symbolism of social difference seems to have been present from the earliest period of our species existence. The rise of Homo sapiens may even have been linked to the use of public symbols.

Recent work in southern Africa, published today in Science, is helping archaeologists clarify the early history of painting and its use in creating symbols.

Discoveries at Blombos Cave

The latest discovery comes from Blombos Cave, a large cavern located on the southern African coast, south-east of Cape Town.

Vincent Mourre