Identifying and analyzing archaeological ochres

The Department of Archaeology will present an interactive workshop hosted by HERI and led by James McGrath from the University of Iowa.  The workshop is entitled, "Identifying and analyzing archaeological ochres".

Archaeological ochres regularly occur in Late Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological deposits. Correct identification of these materials can be challenging, however. During excavations it is somewhat common for objects called “ochres” to actually be a variety of reddish stones or fire modified rock. Correctly identifying these materials is important, given the association of ochres with symbolism, various utilitarian tasks, and concepts of behaviorally modern humans.

This workshop will provide an introduction to key features useful for identifying archaeological ochres, methods of ochre analysis, and methodological concerns with interpretations of archaeological ochres. Participants will be provided with modern geological samples of ochres, produce pigment powders from those samples, and then analyze those samples using the E4 coding system. The activities are primarily aimed at field and lab archaeologists who want to analyze ochres, but is also useful for anyone wishing to improve their general artifact recognition.

Participants should dress in preparation to work with pigment powder that can stain clothes.

James McGrath is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. He graduated with his BA in Anthropology from Arizona State University in 2013 and MA in Anthropology at the University of Iowa in 2016. James previously participated in the excavations at Pinnacle Point 5-6 and Vleesbaai near Mossel Bay, South Africa, excavations at several archaeological sites in the American Southwest and Midwest, and museum analyses and surveys in western Namibia. His research focuses on the use of symbolic technologies in relation to the social and ecological context in which they occur and archaeological ochre analysis methodologies.

Wed, 22 Aug 2018 - 13:00

Department of Archaeology, Teaching Studio, Room 3.10, Beattie Building, University of Cape Town