Archaeological Ochres of the Rock Art Site of Leopard Cave (Erongo, Namibia): Looking for Later Stone Age Sociocultural Behaviors

The use of ochre has been documented in many Middle Stone Age sites of Southern Africa. However, the literature on the exploitation of ochre within the archaeological contexts of Later Stone Age (LSA) rock art sites is scarce. Despite the discovery of several painted shelters within the Erongo Mountains (Namibia), no archaeological study of ochre assemblages has been conducted in the region. Here, we present the archaeological ochre assemblage recovered from a LSA sequence at the rock art shelter of Leopard Cave (Erongo, Namibia), spanning ca. 5,700 to 2,100 cal. BP. The use-wear traces present on some ochre fragments and the stone tools bearing red residues are indicative of different stages of ochre processing at the site. The presence of other artifacts, such as ostrich eggshell and bone beads with red residues, and the existence of rock paintings in the cave are pointers to the importance of ochre for understanding the sociocultural behaviors of the LSA populations in central Namibia.

Last Updated
February 17, 2021