Reframing Material Culture Meaning using the Elements (INAA) of Surprise

Author(s): Linda Naunapper

Year: 2014


Bell Type II and affiliated aboriginal ceramics have long been proposed as ethnic markers of the historic Potawatomi and their ancestors in the Great Lakes region. In a more recent study, previous analyses were revisited and integrated with new data to assess the veracity of this hypothesis. Updated metric ceramic analysis identified far fewer ceramic specimens conforming to the suite of attributes defining the ceramic type than was expected (a majority being recovered from the type-site itself), thereby limiting its geographical distribution and weakening the claimed correlation of ceramic type to former tribal locations. Moreover, Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) performed on ceramic and clay samples demonstrates clear elemental similarity between type-site ceramics and local clays, suggesting pottery vessels were made and used locally. In this instance, INAA data challenges established methods of using ethnohistory to infer material culture meaning and acts as a catalyst to propose new interpretive models.

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Reframing Material Culture Meaning using the Elements (INAA) of Surprise. Linda Naunapper. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436892)

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PaperId(s): SYM-35,13