Obsidian In Vermont: Analysis of an Arrowhead in the Gerald Coane Collection

Author(s): Matthew Boulanger; Thomas R. Jamison

Year: 2008


Archaeologists are particularly interested in identifying evidence of prehistoric long-distance trade and exchange, and artifacts made from stone are some of the best records of such exchange because they can be traced back to specific geological outcrops. Archaeologists often develop an intuitive knowledge about the types of stone and their potential sources that were used prehistorically. In Vermont for example, most archaeologists recognize quartzite from the Cheshire formation or chert from the Champlain Valley. But, when archaeologists encounter an artifact made from stone not found in their region of inquiry, they use the term “exotic” to describe it. Occurrences of so-called exotic artifacts are not uncommon in Vermont. Loring (2002) reports a biface found in Franklin County that appears to be made from quartzite from northern Labrador. Other archaeologists have found white chert artifacts believed to be from the Midwest (Cassedy 1991: 19, 30; Loring 1985; Olsen 1936). An obsidian arrowhead in the collection of Gerald B. Coane, curated by the Putney Historical Society (PHS) is another occurrence of a so-called exotic artifact reportedly found in Vermont; however, the distances between Vermont and any known obsidian source are substantially greater than chert sources in the Midwest or Labrador. Could this obsidian artifact have been traded into Vermont prehistorically? We have used multiple analyses to provide information about the geological source and the relative age of this artifact because we believe that these factors can be used to assess the authenticity of this arrowhead. We also hope to direct professional attention to the condition of artifact collections throughout Vermont, collections that have long been ignored and that are in dire need of inventorying and analysis.

Cite this Record

Obsidian In Vermont: Analysis of an Arrowhead in the Gerald Coane Collection. Matthew Boulanger, Thomas R. Jamison. Putney, Vermont: Putney Historical Society. 2008 ( tDAR id: 391858) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8GB267Q

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -73.39; min lat: 44.555 ; max long: -72.341; max lat: 45.008 ;

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
Obsidian-in-Vermont_.pdf 234.10kb Jan 7, 2014 11:45:24 AM Public