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Indigenous Australians use ochre to add colour and detail to items such as this shield at the South Australian Museum. Image courtesy of South Australian Museum

When bacteria tell a story: tracing Indigenous Australian ochre sources via microbial ‘fingerprinting’

Ochre is more than just paint - it tells stories of culture and trade in Indigenous Australians. Using museum artefacts plus science can track ochre sources and untangle a lost history.
Impala drink at a waterhole in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Milk used in paint nearly 49,000 years ago could have come from their early antecedents. EPA/Jon Hrusa

Paint gives clues about the ingenuity of ancient culture

It may have been a cultural tradition to use tempera paint that contained traces of milk on bodies according to a discovery at Sibudu Caves in KwaZulu Natal.

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