Finding chemical and physical evidence of heat treatment of ochre by using non-destructive methods : a preliminary study
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Many Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites such as Rose Cottage and Sibudu Caves yield large quantities of ochre pieces (9000 pieces from Sibudu alone). Physico-chemical characterisation is required to add value to the prior studies of ochre use traces. This project involves a non-destructive and multi-analytical approach (including Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray fluorescence) to characterise ochre pieces. The main goal of these analyses is to establish a method to identify heated ochre pieces. This is investigated here predominantly through experimental heat treatment of geological pieces to create a database of heated ochre. Heat treatment is an indicator of advanced technological practices; this research will ultimately help to gain deeper understanding of behaviour and cognition of people living in the MSA.
Marine Wojcieszak, Tammy Hodgskiss, Philippe Colombar & Lyn Wadley, “Finding chemical and physical evidence of heat treatment of ochre by using non-destructive methods : a preliminary study”, in: Telmo Pereira, Xavier Terradas & Nuno Bicho (eds.), The exploitation of raw materials in Prehistory : sourcing, processing and distribution (Cambridge, 2017): pp. 587-600.