Makapansgat pebble

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The Makapansgat pebble, or the pebble of many faces, (ca. 3,000,000 BP) is a 260-gram reddish-brown jasperite cobble with natural chipping and wear patterns that make it look like a crude rendition of a human face. The pebble is interesting in that it was found some distance from any possible natural source, associated with the bones of Australopithecus africanus in a cave in Makapansgat, South Africa.[1] Though it is definitely not a manufactured object, it has been suggested that some australopithecine, might have recognized it as a symbolic face, in possibly the earliest example of symbolic thinking or aesthetic sense in the human heritage, and brought the pebble back to the cave. This would make it a candidate for the oldest known manuport.[2]

Archeological History[edit]

The teacher Wilfred I. Eizman found it in the Makapansgat, a dolerite cave in the Makapan Valley north of Mokopane, Limpopo, South Africa in 1925. Almost 50 years later, Raymond Dart was the first to describe it in 1974.[3]


It is difficult to class the Makapansgat pebble as art if a rigorous definition of the term is used, as the object was found rather than made. Nevertheless that an Australopithecus recognized a face in it reveals that the early hominid had some sort of capacity for symbolic thinking, necessary for the development of art and language.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kleiner, Fred S. (2011). Gardner's Art Through the Ages: A Global History (Enhanced Thirteenth Edition ed.). Boston: Wadsworth. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-495-79986-3. 
  2. ^ Bednarik, Robert G. "Makapansgat cobble analysed". University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 2003-03-30. Retrieved 2010-05-14.  Archived by the Internet Archive, original URI was
  3. ^ OriginsNet: Pebble of many faces

External links[edit]