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3.4 Techniques and surface texture

Our dataset has also proved useful in identifying probable techniques by which the Avencal 1 engravings were produced. Figure 13 shows a detail of Panel 1A (cf. Figure 4) under normal light, and with diffuse gain and specular enhancement applied. This is one of nine human faces at Avencal 1, all located within this panel, five of which were unrecorded before the creation of the PTMs. As with the many other prepared surfaces on the rock face, the pecked outline of the engraving is readily apparent. Inspection of the two enhanced PTMs allows for fine, but significant, differences in surface texture to be registered within the engraving (Figure 13).

Figure 13
Figure 13: Detail of Panel 1A. L-R: Normal light (bookmark 2), diffuse gain (bookmark 3) and specular enhancement with raking light from right (bookmark 4), highlighting differences in surface texture. [Go to archive]

We assume the portion of the rock face located outside the pecked outline of the face to be the natural texture of the sandstone. The slightly recessed (approximately 3mm deep) pecked-out area defining the facial outline is much smoother than the 'natural' surrounding it, suggesting it received further treatment by abrasion or polishing before the engraving of the facial features took place. Two zones are even smoother: the nasolabial folds and the lips, both of which are incised at an acute angle to the rock face to create deep, wide, and even grooves. Finally, the nose has the same texture as the face, yet was proud of the surface by several millimetres. This suggests that this area was intentionally kept at this height during outlining and pecking the engraving and later polished to the same finish, in order to create a relief effect. Furthermore, pecking an outline before engraving occurs is a common practice across most panels at Avencal 1.


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