10,000-year-old Crayon Found in England

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January 28, 2018

Archaeologists in the United Kingdom are convinced that they have found a 10,000-year-old crayon.

Star Carr crayon

The utensil, reddish-brown and made from ocher, is less than an inch long and about a quarter-inch wide; one end was sharpened. The utensil, along with many other items including an ocher pebble that dates to the same time period, were found at a site called Star Carr, near Lake Flixton, in Scarborough, in England's Yorkshire. The area was a lake long ago but is now covered in peat.

Ocher was used by ancient hunter-gatherers to repeal insects and sunburn and to help preserve animal hides. Now, after re-examining an object first found a few decades ago, a team of archaeologists have concluded that one piece of ocher shaped like a modern pencil was used as a primitive crayon, to apply color to things, or as a tool for doing art.

Archaeologists on the project come from the Universities of Chester, Manchester, and York. The area in and around what was once Lake Flixton is, the archaeologists hope, a rich source of artifacts what the Mesolithic period, otherwise known as the Middle Stone Age, roughly from 8000 B.C. to 2700 B.C. A pendant discovered at the site in 2015 is the earliest known Mesolithic art yet discovered in the U.K.

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