40,000 Years of Ochre Utilization in Timor-Leste: Powders, Prehensile Traces, and Body Painting

Michelle Langley, Susan O'Connor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    With both rock art and ochre-stained marine shell ornamentation identified at the four Timor-Leste sites of Jerimalai, Lene Hara, Matju Kuru 1, and Matja Kuru 2, it should not be surprising that almost one kilogram of colorants were also recovered from these same sites. Pieces displaying clearly identifiable use wear (grinding, scraping, rubbing) were collected from the earliest levels of Jerimalai dating to around 40,000 cal. BP, and continued up through the deposit to the near present levels. Similar quantities and distributions were also found in Matju Kuru 1 and 2, along with Lene Hara. Alongside these colorant fragments were six stone implements displaying evidence for ochre processing, providing insights into the exact pigment producing tools used in this location. Also found was an artifact dated to >10,200–9909 cal. BP from MK2 which may be a fragment of a mastic including ochre as an ingredient in its formation. Overall, this Timorese assemblage offers the ideal opportunity to explore ochre processing and use over a 40,000 year period in Island Southeast Asia — information which has been previously lacking.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-104
    JournalPaleoAnthropology
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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