Other Decorated Objects

Modern humans created decorated objects using a variety of techniques.

Using symbols to represent words and concepts

Text: 
By around 8,000 years ago, humans were using symbols to represent words and concepts. As seen in this 4,100 - 3,600 year old Assyrian lapis lazuli cylinder seal from Bablyon, Iraq, cylinder seals were rolled across wet clay tablet to produce raised designs. True forms of writing developed over the next few thousand years.
Milestone Type: 
minor
Icon: 
Using symbols to represent words and concepts
-8000
Time text: 
By 8,000 years ago

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Hammerstone from Majuangou, China

Early humans began spreading from Africa to other parts of the world by about 1.8 million years ago. Within 100,000 years, they reached China. This discovery was made by Human Origins Program researchers working in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hubei Institute of Cultural Relics. At excavation sites in China’s Nihewan Basin, the team found stone tools like this hammerstone, evidence of animal butchery, and animal footprints.

Hammerstone; Majuangou, Nihewan Basin, China
-1660000
-1660000
Hammerstone from Majuangou, China
Discovered by: 
A team led by R. X. Zhu and Rick Potts
Age: 
About 1.66 million years old
Site: 
Majuangou, Nihewan Basin, China

Lady of Brassempouy

Lady of Brassempouy figurine; Brassempouy, France
-25000
-25000
Lady of Brassempouy
Age: 
About 25,000 years old
Site: 
Brassempouy, France

Geometric incised bone rectangle

Incised Bone, Dolni Vestonice
-25000
-27000
Geometric incised bone rectangle
Age: 
About 27,000 - 25,000 years old
Site: 
Dolní Vĕstonice, Czech Republic

Carved antler baton with horses

Carved antler baton with horses; La Madeleine, Dordogne, France
-11500
-14000
Carved antler baton with horses
Age: 
About 14,000–11,500 years old
Site: 
La Madeleine, Dordogne, France

Carved Bone Disc

Carved bone disc; Xiaogushan, China.
-23000
-30000
Carved Bone Disc
Age: 
About 30,000–23,000 years old
Site: 
Xiaogushan, China

Ancient Shell Beads

Early Trade Routes?

These 82,000 year old Nassarius gibbosulus shell beads were discovered more than 40 km (25 mi) from the Mediterranean Sea, where they originated. By 40,000 years ago, humans were transporting decorative shells—and perhaps trading them—over areas of more than 500 km (310 mi).

Shell beads; Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco
-82000
-82000
Ancient Shell Beads
Age: 
About 82,000 years old
Site: 
Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco

Tata Plaque

Made by Neanderthals

This enigmatic object was discovered at sites where Neanderthals lived. Microscopic analysis shows that the Neanderthal who created this plaque carefully beveled the edge. Remnants of red ocher in surface cracks reveal that color was applied to the plaque.

Tata Plaque, carved of mammoth tooth enamel; Tata, Hungary
-100000
-100000
Tata Plaque
Age: 
About 100,000 years old
Site: 
Tata, Hungary
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