Looking up and looking down: pigment chemistry as a chronological marker in the Sydney Basin rock art assemblage, Australia
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One of the most fundamental problems facing rock art researchers is understanding the age of their subject. In the absence of numeric age determinations, rock art chronologies have often been inferred by extrapolating the ages associated with subsurface ochres. Here I have used portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) to assess if the association between rock art and buried ochres proposed by researchers at two sites in the Sydney Basin — Dingo and Horned Anthropomorph and Yengo 1 — can be demonstrated. I found that pXRF can determine if there is no relationship between archaeological pigments. Where geochemical similarities are found, pXRF does not have the analytic precision to unequivocally link archaeological ochres, but it does provide a robust and readily accessible step in the right direction. The method outlined here therefore provides an inexpensive means of generating complementary chronological (and behavioural) information within rock art studies.
Rock Art Research
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology