1000 Inventions and Discoveries – Mining (c40,000BC)
Early people made full use of everything around them, including rocks, which they used to make tools and to extract minerals. After a time, the good rocks on the surface were all used up, and people had to start digging to find what they wanted.
The first mines were just shallow pits, but miners were eventually forced underground. One of the minerals they wanted was red ochre, which was used as a pigment for ritual purposes and for cave paintings.
The oldest known underground mine was used for collecting red ochre. It is at Bomvu Ridge in Swaziland, Africa.