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Watch Out For Landslides and Gopher Holes! using obsidian hydration to measure post-depositional site disturbance in the VCNP

Author(s): F. Scott Worman ; Anastasia Steffen

Year: 2017

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Summary

Our study examines the potential for using obsidian hydration analyses to quantify post-depositional site disturbance. The Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) in northern New Mexico encompasses a diverse and dynamic mountainous landscape that people have visited regularly for millennia to access large obsidian quarries and other resources. The result is a rich archaeological record with abundant obsidian artifacts. However that record has been altered, sometimes dramatically, by physical, biological, and cultural processes. We used standard excavation techniques along with detailed pedostratigraphic recording and clast size distribution analysis to begin investigating post-depositional processes at two large multi-component sites in the VCNP. We then submitted hundreds of pieces of debitage for obsidian hydration analyses. The combined results provide one way to quantify the stratigraphic integrity of deposits at multiple locations at each site. In addition to illustrating the range of post-depositional alterations present, they demonstrate the effects of large-scale landscape factors such as slope and aspect. Moreover, we suggest that obsidian hydration analyses can contribute to effective resource management. Instead of emphasizing protection and/ or further investigation of sites with apparently intact stratigraphy, it is possible to quantify the degree to which different locations may yield detailed information about the human past.


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Watch Out For Landslides and Gopher Holes! using obsidian hydration to measure post-depositional site disturbance in the VCNP. F. Scott Worman, Anastasia Steffen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430473)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17285

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