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Red Ochre

4 December 2019

This comes from www.everythingselectric.com/eie-141/ … and seems to have its origins at Thunderbolts (but see also www.everythingselectric.com/eie-140/ …. an interview with Montgomery Childs on the Safire Project). Red ochre, and yellow ochre too, are age old compounds used in rock art and for painting the bones of the dead. It also featured in megalithic art – at Malta's hypogeum for example. It was in use over thousands of years. At Babine Lake ochre was harvested from an aquatic source – iron rich bacteria in a clay sediment. It seems scientists used modern technology to replicate what the ancient hunter gatherers did and it required heating up the ingredients to a temperature of between 750 and 850 degrees C. That is very hot – so the query might be, did an external force do the heating and the hunter gatherers (gather) it up already cooked. 

The Red Lady of Paviland is an Upper Palaeolithic burial in the Gower peninsular in South Wales. It is coated in red ochre. At Lake Mungo in western New South Wales in Australia burials have been excavated and these include ochre painted bones as well – on the opposite side of the world. Evidence of such use of ochre dates back to the Middle Palaeolithic period in South Africa (at Blombos Cave). Now, we have evidence of the use of ochre in China dating back 125,000 years ago. It seems ochre has some kind of magical property – in the view of ancient peoples.

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