Study of red pigments from the 'Genyornis' Panel, Arnhem Land, Australia: what are the origins of the haematite? [Etude des pigments rouges du panneau du 'Genyornis' Terre d’Arnhem, Australie: origines de l’hématite?]
Study of red pigments from the 'Genyornis' Panel, Arnhem Land, Australia: what are the origins of the haematite? [Etude des pigments rouges du panneau du 'Genyornis'
|Authors||Chalmin, E. (Author), Castets, G. (Author), David, B. (Author), Barker, B. (Author), Delannoy, J. (Author), Lamb, L. (Author), Geneste, J. (Author), Soufi, F. (Author), Pairis, S. (Author), Hoerle, S. (Author), Boche, E. (Author) and Katherine, M. (Author)|
|Journal or Proceedings Title||Table ronde internationale : Autour de l'hématite. Circulation et transformation au cours de la Préhistoire récente - Méthodes d'analyse Table ronde internationale|
|Place of Publication||Belgium|
|Web Address (URL) of Paper||https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halsde-00866780/|
|Conference/Event||International round table: Around hematite. Circulation and transformation during recent prehistory - Methods of analysis International round table (2014)|
International round table: Around hematite. Circulation and transformation during recent prehistory - Methods of analysis International round table (2014)
Table ronde internationale : Autour de l'hÃ©matite. Circulation et transformation au cours de la PrÃ©histoire rÃ©cente - MÃ©thodes d'analyse Table ronde internationale
07 to end of 08 Feb 2013
Western Arnhem Land’s rock art is world famous yet very poorly dated. Understanding its history over tens of thousands of years has major implications for understanding Aboriginal cultural history in Australia. In particular, very little is known about the composition of paints and the techniques used to make Rock Art. Here we investigate the pigments and rock surfaces of an undated rock painting that has been argued in the literature to represent the extinct megafaunal bird Genyornis newtoni, thought to have become extinct across Australia 40-45 000 years ago. Small flakes of pigmented and unpigmented rock were sampled from the so-called ‘Genyornis’ panel in order to address three major questions concerning: i) the constituents of the pigments used and their modes of preparation (mixing with extender(s) or binder(s); grinding; heat treatment); (ii) the geological formations which provided such pigments; and (iii) the antiquity of paintings on the rock walls. Following macroscopic observations, pigment compositions were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX) and Raman microspectroscopy. Complementary structural information was obtained using X-ray diffraction (XRD). Both unprepared samples and cross-sections of resin-embedded samples were analyzed to obtain morphological, chemical and structural characterizations.
Iron oxides (hematite Fe2O3 and goethite FeOOH) were identified in the paint layer. A white alumino-phosphate-rich matrix was identified as a weathering, microstratigraphically basal bedrock layer on the rock wall. The punctual presence of gypsum (CaSO4, 2H20) was observed as an underlayer below the pigment and could be explained by the weathering process of the quartzite support.
This study highlights the difficulty of obtaining information on ancient pigments significantly modified through time in a relatively open site and distinguishing poorly crystallized iron oxides, which result from the weathering of rocks and the sub-micronic iron oxide crystals in the leached paint layer.
|Keywords||rock art, red pigment, Jawoyn, Arnhem Land (Australia), physico-chemical analyses, weathering processes|
|ANZSRC Field of Research 2020||370399. Geochemistry not elsewhere classified|
|450101. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology|
|430101. Archaeological science|
|Byline Affiliations||Savoy Mont-Blanc University, France|
|School of Humanities and Communication|
|University of Bordeaux, France|
|Grenoble Alpes University, France|
|Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation, Australia|
|Institution of Origin||University of Southern Queensland|
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