Red and Yellow Tracks in the Aurignacian: The Spatial Distribution of Colorants at Abri Castanet (Dordogne, France)

Author(s): Joelle Nivens

Year: 2015


Abri Castanet is one of the most important Early Aurignacian sites in the Dordogne (France). First excavated in the mid-20th century by early pioneers of modern excavation techniques, the site yielded invaluable insights into Paleolithic art and personal ornamentation. More recent excavations continued this trend, using total stations to precisely provenience artifacts and sieved sediment. Such rigorous methods and others have elucidated production and use patterns of stone tools, personal ornaments, and hearths. Adding to these studies, this poster addresses colorants contribution to our understanding of Aurignacian intersite spatial organization.

Geoarchaeological studies of the recently excavated South Sector found substantial quantities of iron oxides within the site’s hearths (Lévêque and Mathé 2010). Coupled with earlier analyses that found XRD spectra associated with heat treating goethite into hematite, the Abri Castanet assemblage fits data suggesting calcining was a regular Paleolithic colorant exploitation technique (Pomiès 1998). To better understand the technique’s role within the wider operational chain(s) of iron oxide processing, I analyzed the spatial distribution of mineral finds. The analysis explores the differential distribution of hematite and less well-represented goethite fragments. Combined with previous analyses, these findings help add paleoethnographic detail traditionally reserved for well-preserved open-air sites in a rockshelter context.

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Red and Yellow Tracks in the Aurignacian: The Spatial Distribution of Colorants at Abri Castanet (Dordogne, France). Joelle Nivens. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398195)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;