Rock On

Scientists led by Brandi MacDonald are using archaeological science to understand how ochre paint was created by hunter-gatherers in North America. MacDonald is an assistant research professor in the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) who also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology at the College of Arts and Science.

Modern technology reconstructs properties of ochre, commonly found in ancient rock art

Nov. 19, 2019

Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

This is a sample of rock art found at Babine Lake. It is representative of the rock art that was analyzed in the study.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Ochre, one of Earth’s oldest naturally occurring materials, was often used as a vivid red paint in ancient rock art known as pictographs across the world. Despite its broad use throughout human history and a modern focus on how the artistic symbolism is interpreted, little research exists on the paint itself and how it was produced. (read more)