Ochre is an important component of paint used in traditional, as well as modern, Australian indigenous art.
The source material was extensively traded across Australia in the past and it has been established that the chemical composition of ochres is dependent on the source [5, 6].
Ochre is a mixture of natural minerals including iron oxide and clays .
1) provides details about the relative age of particular paintings and also when and if pigment use has changed over time.The identification of conversion products that result from weathering processes of pigments can also provide supporting information about age and preservation.The oxalate materials that cover (or lie beneath) rock art have proven to be a source of information about when a painting was produced (e.g. The analysis of rock art pigments does usually involve a combination of analytical techniques to provide a comprehensive characterisation of the pigment chemistry at a site: the pigments used are often complex mixtures and one single approach does not usually provide all the information required.Elemental analysis is an established approach, especially given its widespread use in mineralogical studies.Through an analysis of the mineral pigments utilised in Australian rock art, insight into the age of paintings and practices employed by artists can be gained.
In recent years, there has been an expansion in the use of modern analytical techniques to investigate rock art pigments and this paper provides a review of the application of such techniques to Australian sites.The types of archaeological information that may be extracted via chemical analysis of specimens collected from or at rock art sites across the country are discussed.A review of the applicability of the techniques used for elemental analysis and structural characterisation of rock art pigments is provided and how future technological developments will influence the discipline is investigated.As such, Australian rock art is of great archaeological interest.The focus of scientific studies of Australian rock art has been the dating of carbon-based material found at sites of interest [1–4].Any weddelite that does form eventually transforms into whewellite in the presence of water as the latter is the more thermodynamically stable form.