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Keywords:

  • Prehistoric Paintings;
  • France;
  • Pech Merle Cave;
  • Black Frieze;
  • Black Pigments;
  • Colour Measurements;
  • Neutron Activation Analysis;
  • X-Ray Diffraction Analysis;
  • Black Manganese Hydroxydes;
  • Carbon Blacks;
  • Mixed Blacks;
  • Burnt Blacks

Different black pigments of natural origin (mineral or organic) have been examined by means of several analytical methods (colour measurements, elemental analysis and structural analysis). The results, after being compared with each other, then served as reference points in the study of the ‘Black Frieze’ of the cave of Pech Merle (Lot). After that, colour measurement was investigated in situ on the paintings as a means of displaying small differences (in hue or chroma) between the black colours. The aim of this study was to verify several hypotheses concerning the techniques used by the painters of Pech Merle, and specifically by the one(s) of the Black Frieze. A first objective was that of identifying the nature and, if possible, the origin of the black pigments used in these figures. A second objective was that of determining in which parts of the frieze one or the other (or one and the other) had been used; and the final objective was to provide new technical information that might help us better to understand how the Pech Merle frieze was produced, whether by a single painter and in one episode, for the most part, or, on the contrary, in several episodes and by a succession of different painters.