A simpler explanation for ancient humans’ use of red ocher might be cosmetics, much as in modern mortuary practice. A dusting of red ocher would offset the blue pallor that results when blood flow ceases. No deep, dark symbolism was necessarily involved.

Virgil H. Soule
Frederick, Md.

Any mortuary practice involves symbolism. Simply burying a person’s body instead of leaving it where it lies invokes symbolic thinking .–B. Bower