The first Australian Synchrotron powder diffraction analysis of pigment from a Wandjina motif in the Kimberley, Western Australia

10th May 2014

Wandjina site at the King Edward River crossing showing flake exfoliation (published in Australian Archaeology 78).

Wandjina site at the King Edward River crossing showing flake exfoliation (published in Australian Archaeology 78).

Jillian Huntley, Helen Brand, Maxime Aubert and Michael J. Morwood

We report the identification of minerals in stratified paint layers from a Wandjina motif in the central Kimberley region, Western Australia, via synchrotron powder diffraction. Interpreting our findings with reference to previous pigment characterisations of Wandjina motifs, we outline the potential of this method for rock art investigations. We particularly highlight the implications of successful major and minor phase identification in very small (~3 μg) pigment samples. The results of this pilot study show that crystallographic data is critical in helping to separate environmental/cultural signatures from post-depositional processes within anthropogenically applied pigments. In Wandjina rock art, crystallography facilitates the examination of the cultural context of rock art production within an assemblage ethnographically known to have undergone regular, ritual repainting.

Huntley, J., H. Brand. M. Aubert and M.J. Morwood 2014
The first Australian Synchrotron powder diffraction analysis of pigment from a Wandjina motif in the Kimberley, Western Australia
June 2014
78
x–x
Article
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