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Using Natural Breaks to Work Together: Compositional Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics using Petrography and NAA

Author(s): Marc N. Levine ; Lane Fargher ; Flor Arcega-Cabrera

Year: 2015

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Historically, the application of petrographic techniques and NAA to the compositional analysis of archaeological ceramics in the New World emerged from two very distinct intellectual foundations. Initially, petrographers focused on studying temper to characterize the types of materials used, their geological sources, and their coarseness in an effort to reconstruct the cultural development of potting traditions and interaction among cultures. NAA, on the other hand, was originally used to measure trace elements to distinguish geological clay sources. Thus, at base, each technique focused on very different things for very different ends. Accordingly, they have traditionally produced divergent and, sometimes, contradictory results. Therefore, in order to build a bridge between these methods, we present a new method that uses mineral chemistry, continuous variables, and insights from Central Limit Theorem to bring Petrography and NAA together in such a way that they can effectively provide complementary information on temper (or natural occurring aplastics) and clay. In order to do this, we move away from the classic analytical techniques in each area (e.g., ternary data in petrography and log transformations in NAA analysis) and incorporate statistical methods not traditionally used in compositional analysis by archaeologists.

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Using Natural Breaks to Work Together: Compositional Analysis of Archaeological Ceramics using Petrography and NAA. Lane Fargher, Marc N. Levine, Flor Arcega-Cabrera. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397109)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America