Preliminary abstract: The discovery of ochre at African Middle Stone Age sites has been widely interpreted as relating to the onset of modern human symbolic behavior. Dependence on symbolism to communicate information and strengthen group identities is an essential attribute of our species. Although significant quantities of modified ochre have been recovered which date to before the oldest Homo sapiens fossils (~195,000 years ago), the first unambiguous evidence of symbolism does not appear until 80-105 thousand years ago. An alternate hypothesis holds that ochre's first function was technological rather than symbolic. This project will ask the research question, 'When routine human acquisition of ochreous minerals began during the Middle Stone age, was this activity motivated primarily by symbolic or technological considerations?' We will test 5 hypotheses addressing whether: Specific sources of ochre in Africa can be distinguished from one another by trace element composition, MSA ochre artifacts can be matched to specific sources, MSA ochre procurement was mediated by color preferences, ochre was heat-treated to induce color transformations, and if ochre improves the adhesive efficacy of resin glues. This research will be carried out at Memorial University of Newfoundland, The George Washington University, Olorgesailie, Kenya; Karonga, Malawi; and Twin Rivers, Zambia.