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A Study of Some Californian Indian Rock Art Pigments; David a. Scott and William D. Hyder

A Study of Some Californian Indian Rock Art Pigments; David a. Scott and William D. Hyder

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Pigmento rojo en los Chumash
Pigmento rojo en los Chumash

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Published by: aldo_ivan on May 11, 2012
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06/27/2012

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A Study of Some Californian Indian Rock Art PigmentsAuthor(s): David A. Scott and William D. HyderReviewed work(s):Source:
Studies in Conservation,
Vol. 38, No. 3 (Aug., 1993), pp. 155-173Published by:
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Accessed: 17/02/2012 14:03
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ASTUDYOF SOME CALIFORNIANINDIANROCKARTPIGMENTSDavidA.Scott and William D.Hyder
Abstract-Astudywasmadeofanumberof rockart sites inCalifornia odeterminewhichpigmentshad beenusedbytheChumashndians.Thestudywasbased onpigmentmicrosamplesnd rockartfragmentsexcavated from sitedebris.Thetech-niquesofexaminationmployednthestudywerepolarizedightmicroscopy,nvironmentalcanningelectronmicroscopy,electronmicroprobeanalysis,colourrecordingonsiteandX-raypowderdiffrac-tion.Thepigmentsdentifiedbythisstudyincludeyellowochre,redochre,woodcharcoal,halloysite(awhiteclay)and awhite whichisprobablyshellwhite. Themineralcrustsassociatedwiththe rockartsurfacewere alsostudiedandgypsumwasfound tobe acommoncomponent,togetherwiththecalciumoxalate,whewellite.Thepotentialalter-ationofcarbonatepigmentsogypsumisinferredfromthestudy.Thepapersillustratedwithexam-plesofdeterioratedock artandwithcross-sectionsfromthe sitesdiscussed,particularlyCarnerosRockandPaintedRock.1IntroductionManydifferentIndiancultureshaveinhabitedtheCalifornianarea,ofwhomthebest knownaretheChumashIndians.TheChumashinhabitedthe southcentralcoastalzoneofCalifornia forover athousandyears.Theywereskilledcraftsmenwho lived insettledcommunitiesofsmallvillagesandwhoobtainedmaterialsandfoodfrom theabun-dantmarineandterrestrialresources ofthearea.CraftspecializationamongtheChumashresulted intheproductionofplankcanoes,shellcurrency,stone bowlsandmortarsandfinebasketry,aswell asflint-working,the uti-lization ofawidevarietyofplantsandsomenotablerockart[1].EthnographicinformationsuggeststhatChumashartwhichparticularlyassociatedwith areligiousorshamanisticcultknownasthe'antapwhichoccupiedapower-fulpositioninChumashsociety.Many
Received 26May1992Studies inConservation38(1993)155-173
Chumashrituals were related toastronomicalorastrologicalobservationsand theChumashcarefullyobservedthephasesofthemoonandthesettinganddeclination of thesun[2];thesecelestialobservationsmayalso haveinfluencedrockartlocation ordesign.Most of the rock art sites occuron sand-stoneoutcropsinthe foothillsormountainregionsofsouthernCalifornia'straversemountainranges,in an areaslightly greaterthanSantaBarbaraCountyandVenturaCounty.The art oftentakes the formofdetailedpolychromepaintings, especiallyman-dalas or ornate circularmotifs[3].Othercom-mon elementsinclude insectsand lizard-likecreatures and occasionalrepresentationalmotifs. The artisusuallysmall-scaleandfre-quentlyframedinnaturalrock cavitiesorhol-lows;most is associatedwith or incloseproximityto otherarchaeologicalfeatures[4].HyderhascategorizedChumash rockartinthreeprincipal groups:linedrawings appliedto thebarerock,monochromepaintingsandpolychrome paintings[4].The coloursusedtomake this rock art werered,black,white,yel-low,blue andgreen.Blue andgreenarequiterare and were not found inanyofthesitesdiscussedin thispaper. Empiricalobservationsuggeststhat redpigmentshave survivedbet-ter than whiteand black. Mostarchaeologistsacceptthat ochre orhaematitewasusedforthered,but thereissomequestionas totheidentityoftheblack,white and otherpig-mentsemployed bytheChumash.The firstreportsoftheexistenceofrockartintheregiondate from the1880s[5],whiletherecordingand examination of the sitesthemselves werespurred bythepublicationofaseminalstudy byCampbellGrantin1965[6].Detailedscientificstudyofaboriginalcolorantsand the determinationof theageofrock artpigments byacceleratormass-spectrometryradiocarbondatinghaverecentlybeenthesubjectofseveralpapers[7-12],but
155
 
David A. Scottand William D.Hyder
little scientificworkhasbeenpublishedrelat-ingtopictographsitesinCalifornia.Theanalysisofpigmentsis central to thestudyofrockart,yet samplingofpictographsis oftenproblematicdueto theirfragilityandthedamagethat can be causedtothesurfacebyremoval ofpigment.Thispaperdescribeswork onpigmentidentificationand the natureof thedepositson the surfaceof thepic-tographs,bothof which areimportantforconservationstudies and formonitoringofthesites. Most of the workreportedin thispaperwascarried outon rock artfragmentswhichhadbecome detachedfrom the sitesand werefoundlyingin debris. Wherepigmentstudiescould beundertaken,additionalexaminationwas carried out onpigmentmicrosamplesremovedwith atungstenneedleandmicro-scalpel,with thepermissionof the relevantauthorities.Techniquesused tostudythepigmentsam-plesincludepolarizedlightmicroscopyonmicrosamples, Debye-ScherrerX-ray powderdiffraction,transmittedandreflectedlightmicroscopy,electronmicroprobe analysis,andcolourrecordingwith aportableMinoltaCR121 Chromameter.2EthnographicnformationoncerningpigmentsThe extensive field notesrecordedbytheethnographerJ.P.Harringtonin over 30yearsofwork inthearea form animportantarchivefor researchinto theChumashandotherCalifornianIndiangroups.Athoroughsurveyof the literaturerelatingtothe culture of theChumash isprovidedbythe multi-volumework of HudsonandBlackburn[13]andnumerousresearchpapers byHarringtonhim-self[14].In the Chumasharea,afterminingorpreparationofthepigment,it was often madeinto small loavesorcakes,probablybymixingwith a binder. Thecakes couldthen beeasilytransportedor traded.Pigmentcould beappliedwithbrushes made fromyucca, soap-root or duck feathersas wellasby finger-painting.Smallstone mortars andpestles mayhave beenusedtogrindthepigmentcakesbeforeapplication.Thesepigmentcakes wereoften containedinhollowed-outpinecones,buckskinsacks,shells or basketsforstorageandtransport.1562.1Red andyellow pigmentsRed ochre andyellowochre areverycommonrock artpigments.Australian rock artstudieshavesuggestedthat selectedochredepositswereconsidered to beparticularly powerfulandochre cakespreparedatspecificquarrieswere traded overmuch of thecontinent,evenwhen localdepositswere available[15].RedochredepositsarewidespreadintheCalifornia area and smalllumpsof ochre canbepickedup todayfrom the soiland sandsurroundingthe site of PaintedRock,forexample.Redochrepigmentswere oftenspe-cially preparedand have been found intheformofcarefullyshapedcakes,storedinshellcontainers(Figure1).One such cakeinthe
Figure1Shell containerandred ochrefromtheCanalino culturalarea,SantaBarbaraCounty(SantaBarbaraMuseumofNaturalHistory,NA-CA-123-4D-1,no. SP.1772TA933).
collection oftheSanta Barbara Museum ofNaturalHistoryhas an inciseddesignand isfroman inlandChumash site.Heizer andTreganzarecordsomeinterestingdetails ofthepreparationofredpigments bytheCocopaIndians fromthe area ofImperialCounty,on the border betweenMexico andtheUnited States[16].The haematite usedwasa dull reddishcolour,andto make thepigment brightertheCocopafired themineralinsitu.The roasted mineral was thenremovedinchunksand leachedinwater to removesaltsand soften thelumpsinto apastymass.Harringtonnotes thatspringscouldalso
StudiesinConservation38(1993)155-173

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