Abstract

During the early autumn of 2014 a field-based near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy study was carried out at Swedish and Norwegian Stone Age rock painting sites. This article presents results from one of them, namely Flatruet, Härjedalen, Sweden. Here, field-based NIR measurements were conducted using the 908–1676 nm wavelength range to gather 479 spectra: 427 of rock paintings and 52 of local lithology background. The whole dataset was analysed using principal component analysis (PCA) and four principal components were extracted explaining 98.5% (PC1), 1.4% (PC2), 0.06% (PC3) and 0.04% (PC4). The PCA results showed that there was a large spread in the spectra of both background and red paint objects, but also some evidence of clustering could be seen where background and paintings could be separated. An improvement in separation was achieved with partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) using the background and paint as categorical variables. The most important components of the PLS-DA model showed a better separation in the score plot. A small test set of 10 paint and 10 background samples showed that one of the paint samples and two of the background samples were misclassified. One conclusion is that there is a large spread in background due to varying precipitation of secondary iron oxides. It was also decided to look deeper into local models of painted elks and their pigments alone. This was done using local PCA models and soft independent modelling of class analogies showing that some painted elks could be separated from each other while others were quite similar, which is important for answering questions about origin, age and weathering.

© 2015 The Author(s)

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