GREEN
10/14/2011 12:55 pm ET | Updated Dec 14, 2011

Ancient Art Studio Discovery In South Africa Suggests Evidence Of Modern Behavior Among Early Humans

A recent discovery of an ancient art studio might suggest our ancestors were smarter than researchers originally thought.

Archaeologists uncovered a 100,000-year-old workshop in South Africa containing supplies such as "pieces of ochre, grinding bowls, shells for storage and bone and charcoal to mix with the pigment," the Associated Press reports. Details of the discovery were published in the journal Science.

Findings from the Middle Stone Age site in Blombos Cave suggest that humans were capable of planning, producing and storing art (indications of complex cognition) about 20,000 to 30,000 years earlier than documented, according to Scientific American.

Shells were likely used as containers for charcoal, bone and ochre, an early form of paint made from earth's pigments. Residue on bone fragments might indicate that mixtures were heated and stirred, CNN reports.

And the manner in which the items were stored suggests that our early ancestors had intended to use them again in the future, Discovery News points out.

"They really knew what they were doing. It’s not just idiosyncratic behavior, but it’s a very planned process," said Francesco d'Errico, researcher and co-author of the study, according to CNN.

The discovery might provide proof to settle a longtime debate regarding the origins of human modern behavior, according to the International Business Times. Other sites in the past have been unable to produce enough hard evidence to indicate the "acquisition of fully modern cognitive abilities."