The exchange of ground nephrite celts across the Rocky Mountains


Non-local nephrite (jade) artifacts are reported from archaeological sites in northern and central Alberta and are derived from nephrite tool producing areas in southwest British Columbia. This is evidence of trade extending more than 800 km distant across the Rocky Mountain divide. We provide results from a variety of non-destructive techniques (portable X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, and near-infrared spectrometry) to determine the geochemistry and mineralogy of nephrite ground stone celts found in Alberta, and to associate those individual artifacts with documented celt-producing areas in British Columbia. The accurate identification of nephrite can reveal significant cultural relationships that involved long distance exchange of raw materials between occupants of Alberta and British Columbia. The rarity of nephrite celts in Alberta and comparison of their morphology with those from British Columbia suggests that nephrite celts were primarily prestige-related tools in Alberta.

Cite this Record

The exchange of ground nephrite celts across the Rocky Mountains. Jesse Morin, Tood Kristensen, John Duke, Andrew Locock, Courtney Lakevold. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428811)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14493