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Investigating Prehistoric Obsidian Source Utilization in Birch Creek Valley, Eastern Idaho

Author(s): Brooke Arkush ; Richard Hughes

Year: 2015

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Summary

Investigating Prehistoric Obsidian Source Utilization in Birch Creek Valley, Eastern Idaho

Brooke S. Arkush and Richard E. Hughes

The Birch Creek Valley of eastern Idaho lies just west of the Continental Divide in a region containing numerous obsidian sources. Although the rich archaeological deposits contained within this high desert area were first investigated more than fifty years ago, relatively little excavation-based research has occurred there since the late 1960s and our understanding of ancient lifeways within the Birch Creek drainage remains superficial. This paper presents the results of recently conducted obsidian provenance analysis from four sites that occur in three different ecozones (valley margin, foothills, and uplands) with emphasis on broad patterning

in obsidian source use and settlement practices of Native peoples who occupied the area. We also address the challenge of determining the most proximate procurement locations for obsidian from the Walcott Tuff, which yields artifact-quality volcanic glass of ash-flow origin exposed in numerous geological contexts across a broad swath (~ 35,000 km2) of the adjacent eastern Snake River Plain. Obsidian of this chemical type was commonly used by prehistoric Birch Creek residents, and may have been obtained from a number of highly dispersed deposits in eastern Idaho.

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Investigating Prehistoric Obsidian Source Utilization in Birch Creek Valley, Eastern Idaho. Brooke Arkush, Richard Hughes. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397359)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.761; min lat: 29.917 ; max long: -109.27; max lat: 42.553 ;

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