Human Evolution @ UCL


Red Ochre Research - What We Know

5 December 2021

The term “ochre sensu lato” is defined for worldwide archaeological studies. Recent key advances, approaches, and methods in ochre analysis are discussed. Best practices are identified for experimental design, instrumental analysis, and statistical data interpretation.

Aboriginal Rock Art - Red Ochre - Fish

This manuscript seeks to facilitate meta-analysis of cross-disciplinary ochre studies by advocating for a common vocabulary and clarifying the definition of “ochre” as used by archaeological scientists across cultural and geographic specialties. This work reviews the current state of ochre archaeometry, spanning the beginning of its major period of growth in the late 20th century through the present. Here, the focus is on the main areas of ochre archaeometry as represented in the published literature, with characteristic example studies and best practices for each. These areas include methodological approaches to characterization and provenience, instrumental data interpretation and its relation to experimental design and sampling, experimental archaeology, and chronometry. A key focus of this manuscript is highlighting emerging areas of research, such as biological processes and phenomena, and extant but understudied applications in the field including isotopic systems, genomic analysis, and experimental archaeology of ochre.

The archaeometry of ochre sensu lato: A review

Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoffa, Andrew M. Zipkin