Title

Experimenting in Archaeology: Can red ochre waterproof a hide?

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Red ochre appears naturally all across North America and the pigment has been found at a number of ancient peoples sites. Many theories exist about the reason this material is present at these sites including that it may have been to waterproof hides used in ancient dwellings. It is difficult for archaeologists to test such a theory with only what has survived to the present. My research then uses experimental archaeology, which is testing an archaeological hypothesis by making an object or performing an action rather than looking only at ancient remains, to see if red ochre can really improve the waterproofing qualities of a hide. To do this I have tanned a deer hide that was acquired in North America and used said deer hide to see how different amounts of red ochre applied to the hide affect its ability to hold or repel water. Nothing has suggested that this kind of experimental archaeology has been done before and the amount of this pigment appearing in different sites across North America where animal hides would have been used makes that a connection worth testing. The results of this research will serve as another piece of the puzzle in understanding the ancient people of this continent and their adaptations to it. This research will be able to help other archaeologists make inferences when evidence of both red ochre animal skins are found at a site in North America.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 15th, 3:00 PM Apr 15th, 4:00 PM

Experimenting in Archaeology: Can red ochre waterproof a hide?

Red ochre appears naturally all across North America and the pigment has been found at a number of ancient peoples sites. Many theories exist about the reason this material is present at these sites including that it may have been to waterproof hides used in ancient dwellings. It is difficult for archaeologists to test such a theory with only what has survived to the present. My research then uses experimental archaeology, which is testing an archaeological hypothesis by making an object or performing an action rather than looking only at ancient remains, to see if red ochre can really improve the waterproofing qualities of a hide. To do this I have tanned a deer hide that was acquired in North America and used said deer hide to see how different amounts of red ochre applied to the hide affect its ability to hold or repel water. Nothing has suggested that this kind of experimental archaeology has been done before and the amount of this pigment appearing in different sites across North America where animal hides would have been used makes that a connection worth testing. The results of this research will serve as another piece of the puzzle in understanding the ancient people of this continent and their adaptations to it. This research will be able to help other archaeologists make inferences when evidence of both red ochre animal skins are found at a site in North America.