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Analysis of an Obsidian Biface Reportedly Found in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont

Author(s): Matthew Boulanger ; Thomas R. Jamison ; Craig Skinner ; Michael D. Glascock

Year: 2007

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An obsidian biface reportedly found in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont, is the only currently locatable obsidian artifact purported to have been found in Northern New England. As such, it may be evidence for prehistoric long-distance exchange, a product of modern- or historic period trade among artifact collectors, or it may be a modern replica. Four criteria are outlined to assess the artifact’s authenticity as a product of prehistoric trade: provenience, cultural affiliation, age, and geological source. Archaeological provenience of the biface is vague and not testable. Geochemical assays demonstrate that the point is made from obsidian originating in the Great Basin. Measurement of an obsidian-hydration rim indicates that the point was made prehistorically. Typological analysis is ambiguous: The point may be assigned to types defined in northern New England or the Great Basin. The biface therefore cannot be considered authentic evidence for prehistoric long-distance exchange, and future claims of extremely long-distance trade must consider alternative explanations for the presence of obsidian artifacts in New England.

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Cite this Record

Analysis of an Obsidian Biface Reportedly Found in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont. Matthew Boulanger, Thomas R. Jamison, Craig Skinner, Michael D. Glascock. Archaeology of Eastern North America. 35: 81-92. 2007 ( tDAR id: 390863) ; doi:10.6067/XCV89K4DD3


Spatial Coverage

min long: -72.746; min lat: 42.723 ; max long: -72.087; max lat: 43.103 ;


General Note: The obsidian artifact that is the focus of this article is part of the Gerald B. Coane collection, curated at the Putney (Vermont) Historical Society

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
boulanger-aena-35-2007_obs-biface.pdf 753.73kb Mar 8, 2013 3:54:32 PM Public
Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America