Amy Ann Chase

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Memorial U.

Grant number

Gr. 10210

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Chase, Amy (Memorial U.) "A Colorful History: Iron and manganese oxide pigment utilization and procurement at El Castillo Cave, Spain."

Were Neandertals artists? This research seeks to better understand the ways that both Neandertals and Modern Humans used and interacted with mineral pigments, and what this information can tell us about Neandertal art and symbolic behavior. This project will undertake the technological, functional, mineralogical, and elemental analysis of black and red mineral pigments found in the Mousterian (Neandertal) and Aurignacian (Modern Human) levels at the controversial Prehistoric art site of El Castillo Cave, Spain. My research will produce an integrated analysis of mineral pigments within the context of ongoing debates surrounding the cognitive and symbolic capabilities of Neandertals in Paleolithic Europe. The scientific analysis of Neandertal symbolic materials can provide valuable and meaningful information regarding their symbolic activities, cognitive capabilities, and social structures. Utilizing optical microscopy, Portable X-ray Fluorescence and Micro-Raman Spectroscopy, this project will answer questions surrounding the nature of modification, use, composition, and procurement of pigments by Mousterian Neandertals in the Cantabrian region. This unprecedented examination of pigments from El Castillo will provide a comprehensive look at Neandertal artistic activities, and contribute to a better understanding of the relationship and interactions between Neandertals and Modern Humans at the site.