Monday, March 26, 2012

MUN Archaeology Lecture - Andrew Zipkin

I got this notice last week about a talk happening at MUN this Friday afternoon.  I'm really looking forward to it. Andrew Zipkin is studying some very interesting ochre stained Middle Stone Age tools from Africa.  He uses experimental archaeology and laboratory analysis to work out how and why the ochre was used.  Very cool stuff.

The Department of Archaeology Lecture Series presents a talk by Andrew Zipkin, PhD candidate, from the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology (CASHP), Department of Anthropology, The George Washington University.

 Date: Friday, 30th March 2012 
   Location: Memorial University, St. John's. Queen's College QC2013 
Time: 3pm 
Andrew Zipkin's PhD research focuses on the role of ochre (iron-containing earth pigments) in the evolution of modern human behavior. Ochre is widely proposed to have been used in either a symbolic capacity as pigment, or in a functional capacity as a component of hafting adhesive during the African Middle Stone Age. His research attempts to address these two leading interpretations of ochre use by conducting a geochemical provenance study of ochre artefacts from Middle Stone Age sites in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. I must say I am interested in what he finds out. Here on Kodiak our early sites have copious amounts of red ochre - all the floor deposits are bright red. I have heard arguments that it represents dyed skins, perhaps repels bugs, or even the old 'symbolic purposes'. Personally, i have no idea - I just know the early sites have lots of red ochre. So give me an answer!!! Patrick

  2. I'm curious to find out what properties ochre brings to the table. It was used a lot here by Europeans, Recent Indians and the Maritime Archaic. There were certainly some symbolic/decorative/spiritual reasons but I think there were lots of functional reasons as well. There are so many experiments that I'd like to try to see if oil+ochre makes a better paint, insect repellent, water proofing, insulation, etc. I haven't heard anyone here suggest it was added to sap to make a better adhesive, but it wouldn't surprise me.

  3. In Newfoundland Canada early settlers apparently used the stuff to paint their fishing stages and buildings and such. I believe mixed with fish oil and/or linseed oil. Perhaps it was used because of it's water proofing abilities?

    Anyway, just came by this post as I was searching for more info on the subject and thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.


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