Chemical Characterization and Source Identification of Obsidian Projectile Points in the Southern Southwest

Author(s): Jeffrey Ferguson; Myles Miller; Martha Yduarte

Year: 2017


A sample of over 800 obsidian projectile points collected during 40 years of archaeological survey and excavation on Fort Bliss Military Reservation of south-central New Mexico and western Texas was submitted for chemical characterization and source identification using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). Obsidian projectile points representing all major temporal periods were analyzed, including Paleoindian Folsom points, several forms of dart points produced during the Early, Middle, and Late Archaic Periods, and arrow points of the Ceramic and Protohistoric Periods. Geologic obsidian sources from across the Southwest and northern Mexico and secondary sources along the Rio Grande Valley were identified among the samples and the temporal and geographic distributions of those sources were reviewed. The use of temporally-sensitive projectile points provided a much broader time depth than previous studies of obsidian sources based on groups of samples relating to one or two phases or periods and allowed for changes in territorial mobility ranges during the Archaic Period to be contrasted with shifting social and economic relationships during the Ceramic Period. The analysis provides an unprecedented insight into 8,000 years of prehistoric adaptions, mobility, and social evolution in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico and Trans-Pecos Texas.

Cite this Record

Chemical Characterization and Source Identification of Obsidian Projectile Points in the Southern Southwest. Jeffrey Ferguson, Myles Miller, Martha Yduarte. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428932)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16883