An approximation to the study of black pigments in Cova Remigia (Castellón, Spain). Technical and cultural assessments of the use of carbon-based black pigments in Spanish Levantine Rock Art

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Abstract

Spanish Levantine Rock Art is a unique pictorial expression within the prehistoric European context. Located in shelters in the inland regions of the Iberian Mediterranean basin, this art form, which must be necessarily studied in the frame of the process of neolithization of this territory, still lacks direct dating, and therefore its authorship is still open to debate.In this paper we present the first characterization of black pigments used in the Cova Remigia shelters in the Valltorta-Gassulla area (Castellón, Spain) by means of EDXRF spectrometry combined with SEM-EDS and Raman spectroscopy. Our aim is both to identify the raw material used for the preparation of black pigments and to make a first approach to the cultural choices involved in its use.The results are relevant for several reasons. Firstly, carbon-based black pigments have been identified for the first time in northern regions of Levantine rock art. Secondly, the recurrent use of black pigments in Cova Remigia questions the assumption of its restricted use in Spanish Levantine art. Thirdly, posterior repainting and graphic re-appropriation of black figures have been observed in Cova Remigia, giving rise to the combination of two colours, black and red, fact that is extremely rare in this rock art tradition. Finally, the identification of organic matter in the black pigments opens the possibility of radiocarbon dating.

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López-Montalvo, E., Villaverde, V., Roldán, C., Murcia, S., & Badal, E. (2014). An approximation to the study of black pigments in Cova Remigia (Castellón, Spain). Technical and cultural assessments of the use of carbon-based black pigments in Spanish Levantine Rock Art. Journal of Archaeological Science, 52, 535–545. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.09.017

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