THE artist – if she or he can be called that – was right-handed and used a shark’s tooth. They had a remarkably steady hand and a strong arm. Half a million years ago, on the banks of a calm river in central Java, they scored a deep zigzag into a clam shell.
We will never know what was going on inside its maker’s head, but the tidy, purposeful line (pictured above right) has opened a new window into the origins of our modern creative mind.
It was found etched into the shell of a fossilised freshwater clam, and is around half a million years old – making the line by far the oldest engraving ever found. The date also means it was made two to three hundred thousand years before our own species evolved, by a more ancient hominin, Homo erectus.
“It is a fascinating discovery,” says Colin Renfrew, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge. “The earliest abstract decoration in the world is really big news.”
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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They’re not certain Homo Erectus could speak, but they believe they might have at a rate of about 12 words a minute, based on the shape of their pharynx, chest and neck. So to me this was a small step into the next phase (after speaking) which says “I exist”. Or, perhaps even more exciting: “I existed”. Human life is so short, yet we have learned so much from accumulating knowledge precisely this way. It’s humbling and amazing, even hopeful.