back to article World's oldest URL – fragments 73,000 years old – discovered in cave

Scientists have discovered, tucked inside a cave in South Africa, the oldest drawing yet, made around 73,000 years ago. And it looks suspiciously like a worldwide web address. The drawing consists of from red scraggly lines arranged in a cross-hatch pattern on a slab of rock, some marks are horizontal, others are at angles …

  1. 45RPM Silver badge

    It’s a bit of a stretch to call it a hashtag, but it still makes more sense than any of Donald Trump’s tweets.

  2. TrevorH

    From the extrapolated drawing seen in "b", it's perfectly obvious that this is actually the stone that used to sit in the original estate agent's window and is advertising a teepee for sale. One careful owner, all mod cons including a central fireplace...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It simply says "Bison Mine, F*ck Off"

      1. Little Mouse Silver badge

        Nah - I think it says


        I wonder what's written on the next fragment?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Bison still mine"

    2. Eddy Ito

      No, it's quite clear that this is simply a portion of an early powerpoint slide.

  3. Crisp


    It obviously says "First Post!"

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    Reminds me of a cartoon in an old Sinclair Spectrum magazine. There are two cavemen in a cave (well - where else would you find them) and one is drawing an animal. The other has written 'PUSH BC; RET;' and is saying "I bet that'll confuse the archaeologists" :)

    Mind you when I read it I thought "It'll confuse a few programmers, as well".

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      An old Sinclair Spectrum magazine.

      Found in a cave as well?

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Not WWW but a drawing of...

    ... a thagomizer, named after the late Thag Simmons. The drawing was used for educational purposes.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this count as the oldest known tablet and does it have prior art rounded corners ?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      and does it have prior art rounded corners ?

      No worries as the patent on the stone's corners expired a really long time ago. I guess patents aren't written in stone.

  7. Mage Silver badge


    I've read a lot of reports on this. This is the best.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Clearly, it is ...

    ... pR0n. Much too early for cute cats.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Clearly, it is ...

      Yeah, there were cats, but of the huge brute variety with bastard big sabre teeth. Opposite of cute.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is, obviously, another piece of proof for my theory that Al Gore is a 100,000 year old Reptilian overlord and that he did, in fact, create the Internet.

  10. WibbleMe

    Its clearly a 73,000 year old message to say don't let Trump get into office.... shit.

  11. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Any fule can see

    it is an herd of giraffes heading ->.

  12. Spazturtle

    Hash FFS!

    # is called a hash, not a hashtag.

    A Hashtag is a Hash(#) follow by a tag for example: #tag

    It's only a hashtag if a tag follows the hash.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Hash FFS!

      Dear Spazturtle,

      Me thinks op was actually reading #N iso //W on that rock and #N is a hashtag with N being the tag ;-). In the actual image you can just about distinguish a hash in the first symbol followed by an N.

      You are very welcome, sir!

      Best Regards,

      El'Reg's Voluntary Fire department

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "art" predates all previous evidence of human sketching

    but it does not predate lawyers. Watch this space.

  14. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Or just possibly that our ancient ancestors (maybe) were a bit bored and had nothing better to do. They didn't have enough language skills to make up religion, so doodled instead. Any similarity between this and modern office meetings is purely coincidental of course.

  15. 0laf Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    Look it's porn. Badly worn, badly drawn porn but it'll be porn. Human evolution is driven by porn.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Pr0n

      Human evolution is driven by porn.

      Quite the opposite, sir.

      Sex stimulates the reptilian brain ...

  16. Hans 1


    What were cave-dwelling people doing recording how to mount the W share of a Windows system from Linux ?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Windows?

      Well, these cavemen had Linux admin-style beards, so it's plausible.

    2. Hans 1

      Re: Windows?

      recording how to mount the W share

      Nobody noticed that I forgot about the hostname ...

      icon: self-inflicted

      1. onefang

        Re: Windows?

        "Nobody noticed that I forgot about the hostname ..."

        73,000 years ago there was only one host, so no need to name it.

  17. Aladdin Sane

    it contains material dating back to over 100,000 to 70,000 years ago

    This sentence hurts.

  18. steviebuk Silver badge


    ...a sketch you say? Or could it of just been them rubbing a stone or flint on the wall to make it sharper?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm...

      You can't sharpen flint that way - you need to knapp (chip) it down to a sharp edge.

      In any case, the markings aren't flint or scratches, they're ochre. Do read before commenting.

      1. D@v3

        Re: knapping

        I know that, you know that, but these guys were cavemen, maybe they were still working it out, and using bad material at that.

        (i found a pointy stone the other day and hurt myself on it, i wonder if i can make this thing pointy by rubbing it on the wall, to hurt someone else with. no, no i can't)

  19. PNGuinn

    I call prehistoric b***sh*t

    It's a date. and far more recent than those daft paleoarchiowhatsits think.

    1601. Or maybe 1608.

    If you disagree, find me the next rock with the remaining digits on.

    Far better they waste their time worrying how and when and why ....

    NURSE! My coat's coming untied at the back!

  20. Ochib

    It clearly says "Send Nudes"

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

  22. onefang

    So this is the earliest TCP fragmented packet? Sure their technology was very primitive, taking 73,000 years for a broadcast packet to reach our screens, I guess they hadn't invented timeouts yet. I can't wait for the next fragment to arrive, we might eventually see the entire URL. Then we'll retroactively slashdot it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      So-called "timeout" in IPv4 ...

      ... is actually caused by the TTL (time to live) field decrementing to zero It is not a function of time, but rather the number of hops a particular packet has taken. It works the same way in IPv6, but it's now called "hop limit" instead of TTL, just to annoy us old farts. Regardless, if a rock sits buried for several dozen millennia, the TTL field remains static and the packet stays valid.

      Which brings up the obvious question ... how does one get an ICMP-11 (time exceeded) back to the originating server?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        "hop limit"

        Which would definitely mess up BGP, the Beer Gateway Protocol. Single Malt Transfer Protocol would be unaffected.

      2. onefang

        Re: So-called "timeout" in IPv4 ...

        "Which brings up the obvious question ... how does one get an ICMP-11 (time exceeded) back to the originating server?"

        Dig deeper.

  23. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    " it looks suspiciously like a worldwide web address"

    I clearly haven't had enough whisky yet. To me it looks like one piece of a large puzzle where all the other pieces are missing.

    It could be antlers in a mass of tall grass, for all I know. . .

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slow news day, huh?

  25. Paul Herber Silver badge

    looks like

    Is it the first "me too"


  26. greenwood-IT

    Who did that?


    If they ever find out who did that "art", please let me know. Some toss pot did the same pattern on my car door last month and it can't be a coincidence :-( I'm in Hampshire.

  27. carolinahomes

    80's tradition dates wayyyyyyy back.

    They were simply struck down in the midst of painting their 'pet rock'!

    Mine was mostly purple, as my parents wouldn't buy me any ochre.

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