Archeologists are trying
to understand a set of stones with linear scratches found in Poland. The stones are about 100k years old, before the known start of cave paintings. The article asks: Are the scratches just decoration, or are they symbols with a meaning? Numbers?
The picture shows one of the stones, along with a drawn schematic of the alleged symbols.
I'm normally eager to see evidence of unexpected intelligence in "primitive" humans, but not this time.
This particular stone doesn't need symbolic decoding, and doesn't need to be treated as decoration. It's obvious that the original scratches were a uniform filled-in grid, on the same scale as a window screen. You can see the full grid faintly. As the surface wore down, only the deepest scratches remained. These are much sparser than the grid, suggesting a pattern.
Why would you scratch a fine-grained UNIFORM grid in a stone? Not for decoration, but to make a scrubber.
Useful for taking a layer of fat or mold off meat, or skinning a fish, or grinding grain, or washing your own skin.
And that's pretty damn intelligent after all.
Later thought: Some of these stones look more like knife sharpeners than scrubbers.