100,000-Year-Old Caveman Art?

100,000 years ago an early human, for reasons not fully understood, went ahead and scratched some lines into a tiny piece of hard ochre clay inside his cave. Maybe he’d only been trying (without much luck) to stab a jittery cave-mouse, or maybe, just maybe, it was something more.

Experts and scientists have recently found a hardened piece of that clay inside Klasies River Cave, located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, and they’re calling it the earliest known example of human “abstract art.” The pebble in question [see image below], which will be more elaborately described in the April issue of the Journal of Archaeology, is quite small, only a few centimeters across, but the experts and the scientists seem to think this is the biggest caveman news since we found out they didn’t fight dinosaurs. To the experts, the caveman had been trying to say something with these semi-parallel gashes. They believe these marks represent evidence of deliberate caveman expression.

The “Klasies River Cave Clay.”

Hmm. Maybe the caveman was trying to make some kind of statement, to record in some way his rudimentary thoughts. It could be, but please, when you stop and think about it it could only be one thing, and once I tell you what it is you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it yourself. Yes, I believe it’s totally possible our caveman friend put these marks on the stone for a specific reason–I believe he was trying to record something quite extraordinary indeed. Let’s not forget this is a cave “man” we’re talking about.

I propose that the semi parallel lines in question concisely chronicle the bold caveman’s attempt to abstain from masturbation for 14 days.

Clearly he started out strong, confident, and he made his first few marks proud and deep. “I’m gonna DO this!” But as you can see, as the days rolled on Mr. Caveman’s commitment to his own private challenge began to soften a bit. “I’m gonna do this but if I don’t it’s really no big deal.” He made his marks with a more delicate hand, as if he didn’t want to waste a lot of energy making the grooves too deep because he was pretty sure he was going to just “cave in” in a day or two. The final three grooves are so shallow, placed so flippantly, it is clear that the caveman was by then no longer even sure whether or not he’d already—albeit half-consciously—masturbated on one drowsy cave-morning only to fall back asleep when he’d finished and therefore retain no solid memory of the act.

Where the experts see the world’s first pretentiously lazy piece of abstract piece of art, I see the world’s very first Masturbatory Challenge. I can’t say for sure who’s right, but either way I think we can all agree on one thing: the caveman needed to get out of the cave more.

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