Ochre

How to say goodbye

Twenty-seven thousand years ago, a human parent or parents buried their ten-month-old twins. They decorated their babies with red ochre and jewellery, and sheltered them under the shoulder blade of a mammoth. The huge animal scapula protected the infants, and their well-preserved remains were uncovered in Austria in 2005. (Another child was buried nearby). I recently came across this piece about the sad pair in Scientific American, written in 2006. Live Science has good pictures. The find was originally reported in Nature.


The oldest human symbols

Shell beads that were once strung together and covered in red ochre have been found in Grotte des Pigeons, Morocco. The beads date to 82,000 years ago, five thousand years older than similar artifacts found in South Africa's Blombos Caves (previously thought to be the oldest human artifacts). Together they suggest that bead-making was not an isolated, rare activity but was spread amongst different human groups at this time. NatGeo, PNAS.