Obsidian Exchange Patterns among the Coastal Plains of Northwest Nicaragua


We performed morphotechnical and trace element analysis of 2871 obsidian artifacts recovered during survey and excavation from 12 archaeological sites in the Department of Chinandega, in northwest Nicaragua. The elemental analysis was conducted using the Bruker Tracer III-V portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometer. The pXRF spectra and elemental concentrations of artifacts were compared with those of known source provenience. The results show 98 percent of the specimens match the geochemistry of the Güinope obsidian source in Honduras. The remaining specimens are sourced to La Esperanza in Honduras and the Ixtepeque source in Guatemala with one specimen from El Chayal in Guatemala. Most specimens arise from a core-flake industry consistent with the small size of the obsidian nodules at Güinope. Some prismatic blades were made of Güinope obsidian as well as "prismatic flakes". We show that there were small but significant differences in the rate of consumption of prismatic blades among the sites. The overall regional pattern appears to be that sites in the Pacific coastal plains were engaged in more robust trade with the more distant sources of La Esperanza and Ixtepeque, while inland sites used Güinope obsidian almost exclusively.

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Cite this Record

Obsidian Exchange Patterns among the Coastal Plains of Northwest Nicaragua. Justin Colón, Jimmy Daniels, Lana Ruck, Clifford T. Brown. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396505)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;