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Red ochre at Hohle Fels, Germany: The use of pigment and space at an Upper Paleolithic cave site

Author(s): Elizabeth Velliky ; Martin Porr ; Nicholas Conard

Year: 2017

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Some of the most informative artifacts regarding early symbolic behaviors in Europe come from Hohle Fels Cave, Germany. Hohle Fels (HF) boasts a detailed Upper Paleolithic sequence, and an extensive array of ochre artifacts. In this project, we systematically investigate the ochre assemblage at HF by quantity, type and modification, and proximity to other archaeological features. The ochre assemblage includes painted limestone pieces, faunal elements, fossils, and potential grindstones with traces of ochre, raw ochre artifacts, and anthropogenically modified ochre pieces. Most un-worked ochre pieces date to the Aurignacian (ca. 44-34 cal. ky BP) layers, where important symbolic artifacts such as the Venus figurine and bone/mammoth ivory flutes were found. Almost all of the modified pieces date to the Gravettian (ca. 27-31 cal. ky BP) and Magdalenian (ca. 12.5-13.5 cal. ky BP). A central part of our investigation assesses whether clear behavioral trends related to ochre manipulation are recognizable throughout the Upper Paleolithic. By analyzing the contexts in which ochre occurs spatially and temporally, we aim to explore in-depth how early humans interacted with and mobilized ochre materials during the Upper Paleolithic at HF, which has implications for understanding early symbolic behaviors throughout Central Europe and beyond.

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Red ochre at Hohle Fels, Germany: The use of pigment and space at an Upper Paleolithic cave site. Elizabeth Velliky, Martin Porr, Nicholas Conard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429879)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17449

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America