Volume 89 Issue 42 | p. 55 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 17, 2011

Ancient Humans Were Pigment Chemists

Archaeological findings at a cave workshop in South Africa reveal ochre processing as early as 100,000 years ago
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: pigments, ochre, archeology, chemical history

Bright yellow and red iron oxides known as ochre found in deposits on Earth have long been used as pigments—for example, by early humans to paint their bodies and other objects. Now, archaeologists have discovered a 100,000-year-old ochre-processing workshop in a South African coastal cave, the oldest such site, by 40,000 years, found to date (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1211535). Discoveries at the cave document . . .

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