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Beyond the Visible: Identifying Microscopic Erosion in Ceramics Used for Alcohol Fermentation. An Application of Scanning Electron Microscopy in Archaeology

Author(s): Andrew Fernandez ; Christine VanPool ; Heidi Noneman

Year: 2016

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Summary

Ethnographic research on low-fired pottery has demonstrated that the production of alcohol deteriorates the interior vessels’ wall leaving deep pitting marks. Similar pitting is seen on some jars and sherds from the North American Southwest and Northern Mexico, causing researchers to suggest that alcohol was brewed in this region before European contact. The identification of these marks on archaeological materials relies on an observer to visually confirm and quantify the level of erosion present on the ceramic. This limits the annalist to recognize ceramics only with evident markings. For this project, test ceramics will be used and exposed to three pre-Columbian alcohols, hominy, and water for different times. Using the imaging capabilities of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), the modern ceramic replicates will be evaluated on a microscopic scale, in an attempt to distinguish at what exposure time to alcohol will they display microware that is not visually identifiable. The project results, along with the study's methodology will be discussed.


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Beyond the Visible: Identifying Microscopic Erosion in Ceramics Used for Alcohol Fermentation. An Application of Scanning Electron Microscopy in Archaeology. Andrew Fernandez, Christine VanPool, Heidi Noneman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405404)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

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