Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Is This Red and Yellow Ochre?

I have received yet more info on yet another site located in the southern tiers of NY that is described as "a 17th century Iroquois village hilltop fort site located at least 100 feet above the surrounding area. The site itself is located in the middle of the woods and is protected naturally by steep banks on all sides but for the path leading up to it. As the path leads up to the site the banks on both sides become steeper and steeper. "

The writer goes on to say,
You got me thinking about the above when I saw your blog concerning the Indians and ochre. I also seemed to remember running into, what I think, was ochre, at a Iroquois village site, at least 25 years ago. I had taken some pictures while at this site and thought I had one of the supposed ochre but couldn't remember for sure. With this in mind, I recently went through my photos and surprisingly found the one I was looking for (how often does that happen?)

That site had been dug over and over again from the turn of the last century and it parts of it looks like a mind field. I can only imagine what's been taken out of that ground. While there a friend and I were walking around, looking on the ground for any potshards or points that others may have missed when we spotted what looked like a red stain in the dirt. He started to scrape the surface there and the stain got even brighter. He dug about 6 inches down and found clumps of both the red and yellow stuff. I took the picture as it was found in the ground. There were no artifacts found with the it; It was just there, by itself. It may be clay for all I know. " ~Mark Spaulding

(See the above picture for the image he describes here.)

Please use the comments link below this posting to send your comments, and please continue to email me any info you may have concerning red and or yellow ocher (ochre) usage in the northeast.

Thanks for all of your help in this continuing online discussion.

Other postings in this blog concerning ocher (ochre) found in the northeast can be found using the following links:


  1. Howdy folks!
    I looked at the photo - could be red ochre but I suspect that it may
    be a mixture of burned earth and debris that was exposed...especially if
    the grey material that is being held in the right hand is ashy material
    - I've seen (in some soils, esp. sandy ones) intense (and I mean
    INTENSE) deep reds and oranges and yellows coming out of earth ovens and
    firepits that have held some pretty hefty fires in them at one point...

  2. Deb: There is no question that the photo shows red and yellow ochre, a fine
    deposit. The yellow is limomite iron oxide
    and the red is from hematite iron oxide.(blood) I wonder if there are
    deposits of iron ore in the area and why is there
    evidence of other excavation previously carried out? Ceremonial, burials,etc. Any evidence of fire pits, refuse pits or storage pits? Might be worth some more digging. - T