OVERVIEW

For thousands of years and across the globe, humans have painted images in caves and on other stone surfaces. Some painted sites were later revisited by people who added new paintings on top of the older. Such sites can be very colorful, with complex assemblages of paintings placed one on top the other, so much so that it can be very difficult to discern the sequence of painting time. While archaeologists have developed many sophisticated theories to interpret these paintings, and pieces of the paintings that have fallen off may be recovered to analyze in a laboratory, until recently it has been very difficult to analyze paintings using powerful scientific equipment while the paintings remain on the rock surface. However, technological advances have produced small transportable devices thatnow allow for detailed analyses that do not harm the paintings. These non-destructive portable technologies can scan the cave, rock-surface, and paintings in three dimensions; they can use X-ray technology to determine the chemical elements used to make the pigments that make the paintings, laser instruments to identify organic components of the paintings, andportable digital photography to reveal hidden layers normally barely perceptible to the human eye.

How can integrating portable technologies advance our understandings of complex rock-art while being part of a solution rather than a problem?

1) Experimental pigment processing to create spectral database for comparison with in-situ readings.

2) Use lab-based Raman technology to contribute to spectral database and refine Raman methodology for the field.

3) Create a layers separation/Harris matrix of the site to unravel the series of superimposition events.

4) Conduct on-site fieldwork to record the pictographs using pXRF and pRaman.

5) Use RTI and dStretch imaging to complement/test/verify/expand sequencing.

6) Scan the Main Cave to integrate the above methodologies and analyse surface topographyas well as create interactive virtual environment.

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