Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Sites and Artifacts (Getty by David Scott, Pieter Meyers

By David Scott, Pieter Meyers

Archaeometry is the appliance of clinical tools and analyses to the research of tradition in its archaeological context. Garnered from a convention referred to as to check the fabric tradition from North and South the US, the book's twenty essays on a vast diversity of matters symbolize the complete scope of research during this box. They contain papers via Ron L. Bishop at the compositional research of pre-Columbian pottery from the Maya quarter, Heather Lechtman at the fabrics technological know-how of fabric tradition from the Andes, and J. Michael Elam and others on resource identity and hydration relationship of obsidian artifacts.

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Since the first analyses, New World compositional studies based on neutron activation have evolved in terms of both instrumentation and purpose. " This was a time of getting acquainted with our tools and our con­ cepts. , Rands et al. 1 975; Harbottle and Sayre 1 975; Rands and Bishop 1 980; Bishop and Rands 1 982; Rands et al. 1 982). While the search for "local" versus "nonlocal" ceramics continued, more attention became focused on the social context of ceramic production and dis­ tribution. Later studies often moved beyond the more instrumentally oriented ear­ lier work and explored such topics as the fit between instrumental sensitivity and specificity of archaeological questions, the roles natural and cultural factors play in influencing processing, use, discard, and postdepositional alteration of ceramic materials, and the need to match data-handling techniques to particular data and questions.

Experience with certain procedures lends itself to an almost repetitive sequence of steps involving elemental transformations, data set partitioning often through cluster analysis, and subsequent trial group verification by some single- or multiple-group evaluative technique (see Harbottle 1 976, 1 982; Bishop, Rands, and Holley 1 982; Bishop, Harbottle, and Sayre 1 982; Pollard 1 986). Deriving groups of compositionally similar pottery is only one way to seek pat­ terning in a data matrix. With an unpredictable ratio of increased heterogeneity rela­ tive to a group-oriented pattern that accompanies the formation of large databases, the merit of modeling "trends" or "patterned variation" within data sets has grown.

New possibilities arose, however, when physical chemist Edward Sayre explored the use of nuclear methods of chemi­ cal analysis to answer archaeological questions. Ceramic specimens for this pioneer­ ing study included Maya Fine Orange and Fine Gray pottery from Guatemala. Provided with a scintillation detector and the computational power of a pencil, Sayre and his co-workers produced the first instrumental neutron activation analy­ sis data of pottery, reporting the relative amounts of manganese, sodium, lan­ thanum, scandium, and chromium (Sayre et al.

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