Pigment characterisation in Australian rock art: A review of modern instrumental methods of analysis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Heritage Science, 2017, 5 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2017 The Author(s). The many thousands of Aboriginal rock art sites extending across Australia represent an important cultural record. The styles and materials used to produce such art are of great interest to archaeologists and those concerned with the protection of these significant works. Through an analysis of the mineral pigments utilised in Australian rock art, insight into the age of paintings and practices employed by artists can be gained. In recent years, there has been an expansion in the use of modern analytical techniques to investigate rock art pigments and this paper provides a review of the application of such techniques to Australian sites. The types of archaeological information that may be extracted via chemical analysis of specimens collected from or at rock art sites across the country are discussed. A review of the applicability of the techniques used for elemental analysis and structural characterisation of rock art pigments is provided and how future technological developments will influence the discipline is investigated.
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