Differentiating burial contexts at Russell Cave, Alabama: pXRF and dental analyses

Author(s): Sarah Zaleski; Nicholas Herrmann

Year: 2016


The 1956-8 National Geographic funded and Smithsonian sponsored excavations within Russell Cave and the nearby stone mound uncovered six cave and twelve mound burials, respectively. During the 2011 osteological inventory, two burials comprised of maxillary and mandibular fragments were found labeled "A" and "B" with neither cave nor mound context identification. This study employs elemental analysis of soil associated with individual burials as well as dental comparisons to identify the contexts of Burials A and B. Portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) was used to analyze relative element concentrations in soil samples from four cave burials, four mound burials, and Burials A and B. A discriminant function based on the relative amount of Strontium classifies A and B as mound burials. The discriminant function has a canonical correlation value of 0.983 and accounts for 96.6% of between-group variability. The cross validated classification shows that 100% of cave and mound cases are correctly classified with the discriminant function. In addition to the pXRF analysis, dental data from the mound and cave samples are compared. The identification of Burials A and B as mound burials improves further osteological analysis of the samples from Russell Cave and the nearby stone mound.

Cite this Record

Differentiating burial contexts at Russell Cave, Alabama: pXRF and dental analyses. Sarah Zaleski, Nicholas Herrmann. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405285)

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pXRF Russell Cave

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;