Obsidian Artifacts from La Venta and Sources in Mesoamerica


This is an abstract from the "2019 Fryxell Award Symposium: Papers in Honor of M. Steven Shackley" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In the late 1960s, Heizer and colleagues at UC-Berkeley began to use X-ray fluorescence to measure chemical fingerprints for obsidian artifacts from a number of sites in Mesoamerica. In their study of obsidian artifacts from the Olmec site of La Venta, they found that 93% of the artifacts were explained by five distinct chemical types (A thru E). The remaining artifacts were from less frequent types. At that time, the source for only one of the major types at La Venta was known (Type A = Pachuca). Despite the fact that many more sources of obsidian have been located during the intervening years, it appears that no one has ever revisited Heizer’s original La Venta article and explicitly identified the source names for the remaining chemical groups. In this paper, we review the progress made with respect to obsidian source and artifact studies in Mesoamerica from the 1970s to the present. Finally, we report on our re-analysis of the original La Venta artifacts to identify the obsidian types found at La Venta.

Cite this Record

Obsidian Artifacts from La Venta and Sources in Mesoamerica. Michael D. Glascock, Kylie Gannan, Thomas R. Hester. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450779)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -98.987; min lat: 17.77 ; max long: -86.858; max lat: 25.839 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22864