Characterization of Minerals on Hohokam Palettes


Hohokam palettes are a unique artifact found at several important sites in southern Arizona. The Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ) has an extensive collection of Hohokam palettes from Gila Bend dating from the Santa Cruz and Sacaton periods (A.D. 850-1150). Most of these palettes have white lead-containing minerals on the surface. This project aimed at characterizing the composition and isotope signatures of these minerals using non-invasive and minimally destructive methods, including multi-collector ICP-MS, XRF, Raman spectroscopy, and VP-SEM/EDS. The lead-containing accretions were characterized as a mixture of ground galena ore with white clay and/or calcite, and several explanations for this will be discussed. Isotopic analysis of the lead on the palettes indicates that the same lead source was exploited throughout the region; lead from this same source was also found at Valshni Village, a Hohokam site in southern Arizona, indicating movement of lead throughout the region. There have been many proposed uses for palettes in Hohokam culture. This mineral identification supports Haury’s early theory that these palettes were used for pigments.

Cite this Record

Characterization of Minerals on Hohokam Palettes. Christina Bisulca, Brunella Santarelli, Nancy Odegaard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429039)

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Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14421