Ochre through the late Quaternary at Gledswood Shelter 1, northwest Queensland

Gledswood Shelter 1 (GS1) is a sandstone rockshelter located in northwest Queensland containing archaeological evidence for human occupation dating from at least 35 ka to the recent past. Considerable quantities of ochre fragments (many with striations caused by grinding) have been recovered from the 2.5 m deep cultural sequence, particularly in the pre-LGM levels. The abundance of ochre varies through time, in line with recovered stone artefacts, suggesting that these materials reflect different periods and intensities of site use. This evidence possibly indicates that the production of painted or stencilled art in this region may be earlier than previous evidence suggests (ca 9,000 years ago). The GS1 ochre samples were initially characterised according to visual characteristics including colour, texture and inclusions using low powered microscopy. This work suggests there are several groups of pigment present, including fragments that would more normally be referred to as ironstone and not considered as an 'ochre', but that have anthropogenic ground surfaces indicating their use as a source of pigment. In this paper we present the initial characterisation and preliminary neutron activation analysis results of the GS1 ochres, and consider their implications for the human history of the northwest Queensland region.
Queensland, Australia, Quaternary period, Sandstones, Rocks, Archaeological sites, Archaeology, Pigments, Clays
Wallis, L. A., Lowe, K. M., Popelka-Filcoff, R., Bennett, J. W., St George., C., Watson, C., Fitzsimmons, K., Wight, C., Watchman, A., Lenehan, C., & Matthews, J., (2014). Ochre through the late Quaternary at Gledswood Shelter 1, northwest Queensland. Paper presented at the AQUA Biennial Meeting The Grand Hotel, Mildura, 29th June - 4th July, 2014.