Western Canadian pXRF Obsidian Sourcing

Author(s): Travis Jones; Todd Kristensen; Jeff Speakman

Year: 2016


In January of 2015, researchers from the Royal Alberta Museum, Canada, and the University of Georgia Center for Applied Isotope Studies collaborated on one of the largest geochemical analyses of archaeological obsidian via portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) to date in western Canada, a region previously lacking large scale obsidian XRF analysis. This study is part of a larger project to synthesize obsidian use in the Eastern Rocky Mountains. The Canadian sample consists of approximately 750 artifacts from throughout the province, representing much of Alberta’s prehistory. The pXRF methodology used here has been successfully implemented in a wide range of geographic contexts to source meta-volcanic artifacts. Comparing trace elemental concentrations to known geologic sources, we seek to gain insight into prehistoric obsidian procurement and use in the region. Preliminary analysis demonstrates the majority of the samples’ geologic origins are from known sources in the northwestern United States (primarily Idaho), British Columbia, and Alaska. This study is a first step toward expanding our understanding of obsidian resource procurement and transportation throughout the eastern Rocky Mountains. This information can be incorporated into other data sets in order to establish postulates for possible community home range dimensions, differential access to goods, and trade patterns.

Cite this Record

Western Canadian pXRF Obsidian Sourcing. Travis Jones, Todd Kristensen, Jeff Speakman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405271)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;