New archaeological finds show evidence of primitive makeup from 164,000 years ago.
Researchers found three hallmarks of modern life at Pinnacle Point overlooking the Indian Ocean near South Africa’s Mossel Bay: harvested and cooked seafood, reddish pigment from ground rocks, and early tiny blade technology. Scientific optical dating techniques show that these hallmarks were from 164,000 years ago, plus or minus 12,000 years.
Marean and colleagues tried out that ancient cooking technique in a kind of archaeological test kitchen.
“We’ve prepped them the same way,” Marean said in telephone interview from South Africa. “They’re a little less moist (than modern steamed mussels). They definitely lose some moisture.”
Marean also found 57 pieces of ground-up rock that would have been reddish- or pinkish-brown. That would be used for self-decoration and sending social signals to other people, much the way makeup is used now, he said.