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Title: Use of red ochre by early Neandertals
Authors: Roebroeks, Wil
Sier, Mark Jan
Nielsen, Trine Kellberg
Loecker, Dimitri de
Parés, Josep María
Arps, Charles E. S.
Mücher, Herman Jozef‏
Keywords: Human evolution;Paleolithic archeology;Middle Paleolithic;Mineral pigments
Issue Date: Feb-2012
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012, 109 (6), 1889-1894
Abstract: The use of manganese and iron oxides by late Neandertals is well documented in Europe, especially for the period 60–40 kya. Such finds often have been interpreted as pigments even though their exact function is largely unknown. Here we report significantly older iron oxide finds that constitute the earliest documented use of red ochre by Neandertals. These finds were small concentrates of red material retrieved during excavations at Maastricht-Belvédère, The Netherlands. The excavations exposed a series of well-preserved flint artifact (and occasionally bone) scatters, formed in a river valley setting during a late Middle Pleistocene full interglacial period. Samples of the reddish material were submitted to various forms of analyses to study their physical properties. All analyses identified the red material as hematite. This is a nonlocal material that was imported to the site, possibly over dozens of kilometers. Identification of the Maastricht-Belvédère finds as hematite pushes the use of red ochre by (early) Neandertals back in time significantly, to minimally 200–250 kya (i.e., to the same time range as the early ochre use in the African record).
ISSN: 0027-8424
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1112261109
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Laboratorio de Geología
Microscopía y Microtomografía Computarizada
Geocronología y Geología

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