Tag: atlas osbcura

mesolithic artistic implement

The Most Recent Archaeological Discovery? A Mesolithic Crayon!

Archaeologists excavating land in North Yorkshire, England have discovered what they believe to be a prehistoric crayon along with a pebble that was scraped in order to make red pigment.


artistic implement

Image Via Atlas Obscura


Andy Needham, an archaeologist at the University of York, has said, “One of the latest objects we have found looks exactly like a crayon; the tip is faceted and has gone from a rounded end to a really sharpened end, suggesting it has been used.”


ochre pebble

Image Via Atlas Obscura 


The crayon and pebble were found on opposing sides of a peat bog adjacent to the Mesolithic site where archaeologists previously uncovered over thirty headdresses made from antlers. Needham says:


I think color was probably always important to humans, and it perhaps might even have been important to yet earlier species. And red ochre is common in very early humans sites in Africa, perhaps suggesting it has always been an important material in producing color, amongst other uses, for humans… We see it used for such a long period of time—the use of red ochre at Pinnacle Point in South Africa dates to around 160,000 years ago—and during the Mesolithic period it is commonly found sprinkled into burials across Europe, perhaps suggesting red had some symbolic significance in this act.


Red ochre had many uses: it was employed as a medicine, a natural sunscreen, and an insect repellent as well as for a variety of artistic purposes. Needham added, “For me [the crayon] is a very significant object and helps us build a bigger picture of what life was like in the area. It suggests it would have been a very colorful place.”


Featured Image Via Atlas Obscura.