Case Studies in Chert Sourcing and Identification

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The purpose of this symposium is to provide an opportunity for researchers engaged in identifying and sourcing chert to present new data, methods, and techniques in the form of case studies. The ability to identify and source chert have experienced several advances in the last few years. This ability is focused around new methodologies and multi-technique approaches, rather than macroscopic identification alone. In particular, chert typology is de-emphasized in favor of determining formational and diagenetic processes through multi-technique approaches including instrumental analysis, petrographic thin sectioning, and exhaustive regional studies of macroscopic properties. Multiple instrumental techniques will be presented including Instrument Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA), Fourier Transform – Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), petrographic thin section analysis, and many more. Each of these techniques have unique advantages for answering specific anthropological questions concerning human behavior. Case studies will focus on presenting methodological approaches to include sampling, technique, data, implications of research, and future studies.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-14 of 14)

  • Documents (14)

  • Assessing the Validity of pXRF for Sourcing Cherts in the North American Great Basin (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Khori Newlander.

    As a cost-effective and non-destructive method for multi-element analysis, portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) has the potential for broad archaeological application. Several studies have demonstrated the validity of pXRF for sourcing obsidian and fine-grained volcanic artifacts. In this study, I assess the validity of pXRF for sourcing chert artifacts from Paleoindian sites in the North American Great Basin. Because chert artifacts dominate many archaeological sites, the ability to...

  • Calibrating pXRF instruments for chert provenance: A how-to from the Anatolian Plateau (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Nazaroff.

    In the past decade, a tremendous increase in the use of portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) instruments in archaeological provenance research has warranted several critical reflections on the analytical protocols which underpin their application in various material and regional contexts. This paper approaches the use of pXRF analysis for determining chert provenance with particular emphasis placed on tailoring empirical calibrations to best suit the dynamic properties of chert materials. In so...

  • Chert Characterization and Provenance in the mid-Fraser Region of British Columbia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather Kendall.

    Globally, chert is the most common rock material found in archaeological contexts. Its prevalence on the Earth’s surface in Quaternary deposits and relative abundance in archaeological contexts indicate that it was an important resource material for ancient populations and, as such, can provide information about toolstone exploitation in prehistory. The results of this research suggest a local origin for the chert artefacts recovered from ST 109 at the Keatley Creek site (EeRl-7) in the...

  • A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Instrumental Techniques at Differentiating Outcrops of Edwards Plateau Chert at the Hyper-Local Scale (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles Speer.

    Portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) has become a common tool in compositional studies of archaeological materials due to its quick analytical time and ever-increasing capability with new models and technology. Additionally, pXRF is also beginning to see widespread use for sourcing archaeological materials. This study compares pXRF with two other widely accepted analytical techniques, Laser Ablation – Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and Instrument Neutron Activation...

  • Continuous Spatial Modles of Artifact Relative Frequency Data as an Aid for Sourcing Chert Materials: Two Examples from Patagonia and the Pampas of Argentina (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gustavo Barrientos. Juan Belardi. Luciana Catella. Flavia Carballo. Fernando Oliva.

    The aim of this presentation is to introduce and discuss an approach to sourcing chert materials based on the use of spatial continuous models of relative frequency data (i.e. percentage representation of toolstone classes in georeferenced artifact assemblages), which is particularly useful in areas where there is scarce information about both the variability of one or many toolstone classes represented in lithic assemblages across the regional space and the localization of their likely or...

  • Determining the Provenance of Suwannee Chert: A PXRF and Microscopic Analyses Case Study from Northwest Florida (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Burke.

    This work presents results on the use of microscopic and PXRF analyses for determining Suwannee chert provenance. Traditionally, analysis of the diagnostic microfossils, fabric, and inclusions in Florida cherts has allowed for successful sourcing of lithic raw materials to a distinct quarry cluster within a specific limestone formation. Instrument analysis has not been pursued due to its prohibitive cost, and trace-elemental analysis has been discouraged because of the inherent difficulty...

  • The Irish lithic landscapes project: current chert provenancing research in prehistoric Ireland (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Killian Driscoll. Adrian Burke. Gilles Gauthier. Graeme Warren. Stefan Bergh.

    The Irish Lithic Landscapes project is investigating the places where prehistoric communities obtained the raw materials for their flaked stone tools during the Irish Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Early Bronze Age, which dates to c. 8,000–2,000 BC. While Ireland has a very rich archaeological heritage, there is a significant gap in the island's raw material sourcing research. This project will begin to fill this gap, and therefore deepen our understanding of the prehistoric communities there. The...

  • Lithic Procurement Patterning as a Proxy for Identifying Late Paleoindian Group Mobility along the Lower Tennessee River Valley (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Parish.

    The Tennessee and Cumberland River Valleys boast some of the highest concentrations of diagnostic Paleoindian artifact finds in the Americas. However, many of these finds are from secondary contexts void of associated deposits. The study utilizes chert provenance data, obtained using reflectance spectroscopy, on a large sample of Late Paleoindian diagnostic bifaces from sites along the Lower Tennessee River Valley. The objective of the study is to visualize group mobility at the close of the...

  • Lithic Sourcing Using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Wayne Wilson. Neil Hauser.

    Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometry (LIBS) has been used in Colorado and Wyoming for identifying and sourcing lithic materials for the last ten years. These have primarily focused on chert and silicified sandstone materials and quarry-derived artifacts. During 2012-2013 the LIBS was used to assess whether Bridger chert from sources in northwestern Colorado and southwestern Wyoming could be distinguished from each other. It was found that with greater than 80% accuracy, chert from these areas...

  • Multi-Tiered Proveniencing Analysis of Early Holocene Radiolarite Artifacts from Northern Spain (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Rissetto. Giancarlo Pepponi. Igor Gutiérrez-Zugasti. Rossana Dell’Anna. David Cuenca-Solana.

    Radiolarite is a fossil-rich derivative of biogenic chert found in isolated geologic formations across northern Spain. This inconsistent presence on the landscape has often led archaeologists to misidentify it with other siliceous rock types. However, as the proveniencing of lithic raw materials increase in Spain, archaeologists are becoming more aware of radiolarite and its possible unique technological, typological, and social significance in prehistoric cultures. This paper will present the...

  • Palaeo-Eskimo exploitation of inland chert quarries on southern Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rachel ten Bruggencate. Brooke Milne. Mostafa Fayek. Robert Park. Douglas Stenton.

    The southern Baffin Island chert sourcing project was initiated in 2007. Eight years of fieldwork and geochemical analysis have allowed us to refine our chert characterization technique and its instrumental application. We have successfully characterized two large chert quarries in the interior of southern Baffin Island using solution ICP-MS trace element analysis. We have also linked chert artifacts from one of these quarries to a nearby Palaeo-Eskimo occupation site, demonstrating transport...

  • Patterns of Lithic Raw Material Exploitation and Use in Western Pennsylvania (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Beverly Chiarulli.

    During the Late Prehistoric period, at least four major lithic raw material types were used for the manufacture of a limited variety of tool types. The major tool forms were small triangular projectile points and flake tools. The major raw material types used in this region include Onondaga, Loyalhanna, and Shriver cherts and Vanport Siliceous Shale. Workshops and quarries have been identified have been identified and are found on the north, south, east and west sides of this region. An analysis...

  • Rock, Paper,….XRF….: Continuing Improvements to the UI-OSA Lithic Raw Material Assemblage (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Anderson.

    The University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has an expansive lithic raw material assemblage with a 30 year compilation history. The largest portion contains multiple samples of 75 in-state lithic types while the second portion contains multiple samples from the seven surrounding and 16 additional states. A revision and reorganization of the OSA collection was completed in 2006 to provide a more systematic and consistent approach to lithic identification and sourcing. This...

  • Sourcing Burlington chert in Missouri and Arkansas (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Juliet Morrow. Sarah Stuckey.

    This presentation is a continuation of research on the intersource and intrasource variability of Burlington chert and its implications for interpretations of pre-contact period settlement and procurement. Our results presented in 2013 suggest that Burlington look-a-like cherts (e.g., Lafayette Fomation chert, etc.) display the same mid-infrared spectral range as Burlington Formation chert from quarries and secondary deposits (St. Louis area, northern-central Missouri, and southwest Missouri)....