Ochre: the Colour

The ochre symbol was used to denote the colour ochre over a long period of time and a wide geographical area. I have found examples in Europe and in China.

Sometimes, where the symbol was etched into an object, the etched area was then coloured with ochre the substance. Examples of this are the Vogelherd lion and the Taillebourg tooth.

Click on an image (above) to hide or show the caption with the estimated age of the object.

Author's Note

I only have a few examples, but perhaps this article will give food for thought to museum curators, and archaeologists. Are those cross-hatched markings merely decorative, or do they tell you that the animal was ochre coloured; the contents of the vessel were ochre coloured, or; that the object belonged to an ochre coloured set?


Image Credits:

Cave Script Logo incorporated into leading slides: Copyright © 2011 – 2016 Lynn Fawcett

Vogelherdhöhlen: Lion: Müller-Beck, H. and Albrecht, G. (Ed.): Die Anfänge der Kunst vor 30,000 Jahren Theiss: Stuttgart, 1987. Digital version from Don's Maps: http://www.donsmaps.com/vogelherd.html: Accessed: 28 July 2012

Grotte Cosquer: Engraved Ibex: Jean Clottes et Jean Courtin: La grotte Cosquer : les animaux terrestres: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/archeosm/archeosom/co-anite.htm: Accessed: 28 July 2012

Altamira: Red deer hind: Drawing: Lynn Fawcett, September 2016: After Pedro Saura, Altamira National Museum and Research Centre: http://www.spainisculture.com/en/obras_de_excelencia/ museo_nacional_y_centro_de_investigacion_de_altamira/ cabeza_de_cierva.html: Accessed: 28 August 2012

Taillebourg: Section of a foal's tooth: Jacques Lemounier, ill. Guy Mazière, 2008: Dent aménagée (BDD 294): document de travail, Réunion des musées nationaux, 2009: http://www.catalogue-roc-aux-sorciers.fr/: Accessed: 19 September 2012

Glozel: Brown hyena: Photo: Robert Liris: Animal engravings on bone: Alice Gerard, Glozel, Bones of Contention, 2005: http://www.glozel.net/bone_stone.html: Accessed: 19 September 2012

Lingyuan: Wine vessel in the shape of a red breasted goose: Photo: Lynn Fawcett: Display at the National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing in July 2012.

Aohan Banner: Cross-hatching detail on a pottery vessel, and an artist’s impression of the vessel’s red deer design: Photos: Lynn Fawcett: Display at the National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing in July 2012.