Characteristics of a pigment art sequence: Woronora Plateau, New South Wales

Jillian Huntley, Alan Watchman, Julie Dibden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the results and interpretations of a pilot study of pigment characterisations conducted between 2002 and 2006 on the rock art assemblage of the south Woronora Plateau located immediately west of Woilongong, New South Wales. Eighteen samples from ten sites are described. Analyses of the geochemistry, mineralogy and micro-morphology of samples was undertaken using a combination of scanning electron microscopy including energy dispersive x-ray analysis, x-ray diffraction, particle induced x-ray emission and particle induced gamma-ray emission techniques. With one exception the analyses show that composite clay-based paints were used to produce both iconic and non-iconic rock art on the Woronora Plateau and adjacent Mittagong Tablelands. We discuss differences in the processing of paints used for iconographic and stencil art, and consider the possible chronological and behavioural implications of paint chemistry and morphology. The results of the study, while indicative, provide an exciting example of the type of archaeometric work which can be undertaken successfully in the taphonomically complex Hawkesbury Sandstone rockshelters of the Sydney Basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalRock Art Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Pigment characterisation
  • Sydney Basin
  • XRD


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