This article could just have easily been placed on the archaeological thread, but I consider written language to be an art so bear with me.
The Writing on the Wall: Symbols from the Paleolithic
In 2009, a ground-breaking study by Genevieve von Petzinger revealed that dots, lines and other geometric signs found in prehistoric European caves may be the precursor to an ancient system of written communication dating back nearly 30,000 years. Von Petzinger, with University of Victoria anthropology professor April Nowell, compiled the markings from 146 different sites in Ice Age France, making it possible to compare the signs on a larger scale than had ever previously been attempted.
What made her research ‘new’ was that she was able to use a whole range of modern technology to compare inventories and digital images from nearly 150 locations— allowing her the ability to observe startling similarities among the different sites studied.
26 repeating signs
Building on previous work by other scholars who tended to focus on the local or regional level, von Petzinger and Nowell were surprised by the clear patterning of the symbols across space and time—some of which remained continually in use for over a period of 20,000 years. The 26 specific signs may provide the first glimmers of proof that a graphic code was being used by these ancient humans shortly after their arrival in Europe, or they may have even brought this practice with them. If correct, these findings will contribute to the growing body of evidence that the creative explosion occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than scholars once thought. Von Petzinger and Nowell’s findings have been reported in the New Scientist journal and their research continues to explore the meaning of the symbols.