The enduring nature of the natural pigment ochre has played a significant role in Aboriginal culture and history.
Flinders University AINSE Senior Research Fellow Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff has studied the complex mineralogy and elemental composition of ochre (Fe-oxide pigments) from several known sources around Australia using a number of techniques, including neutron activation analysis (NAA), X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) and near-IR (infra-red) spectroscopy.
She will give some comprehensive insights into her research at next week’s free monthly Sprigg public lecture at the South Australia Museum (Tuesday 5 April).
Dr Popelka-Filcoff will explain how this first comprehensive chemical, physical and mineralogical characterisation of red, brown, orange and yellow ochres from sites and objects across Australia provides unprecedented insights into Indigenous Australian culture and exchange.
Australians Aborigines have been using ochre and other natural mineral pigments for a variety of cultural practices including rock art, body decoration and decorating objects such as boomerangs and shields, since the earliest known human occupation of Australia.
Today, as in the past, Indigenous Australians choose particular pigments for their various characteristics including colour, consistency and “shimmer”.
The Sprigg lecture series provides visitors with access to the latest research and thinking around scientific and cultural discoveries. These free lectures commemorate the life of highly regarded South Australian geologist, Dr Reg Sprigg AO, a who discovered the world’s oldest fossilised animals in the Flinders Ranges in 1946, now internationally recognised as the Ediacara fossils.
Spectroscopic views into the past: Characterisation of Aboriginal Australian pigments at the South Australian Museum
Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff – Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
Tuesday, 5 April at 6-7pm (further discussion to follow 7.30-8.30pm)
Pacific Cultures Gallery
Free, but bookings are essential
Sprigg Plus with Rachel Popelka-Filcoff
Tuesday 5 April from 7.30pm-8.30pm
$38 (10% discount SA Museum members). Bookings also essential