2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)
Paper No. 7-10
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM-11:00 AM

ENIGMA OF A LEAD TOOTH: COMPOSITION OF LEAD ITEMS FROM THE HISTORIC PHASE OF THE EATON SITE

ENGELBRECHT, William, Anthropology, Buffalo State College, Classroom Building B 107, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222, ENGELBWE@BuffaloState.edu and BERGSLIEN, Elisa, Earth Sciences and Science Education, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave, 271 Science Building, Buffalo, NY 14222

In West Seneca, New York, the Eaton site contains a record of small, intermittently occupied campsites from the Early Archaic (c. 8,000 B.C.E.) though the Late Woodland (c. 1,200 C.E.) periods and an Iroquoian village dating to around 1550 C.E. The site also contains materials from the early 19th century, when it was part of the Buffalo Creek Reservation, and traces of late 19th and 20th century materials. The land was sold in 1842 and the site was used as farmland until the early 1950's.

In seventeen field schools conducted by Dr. Engelbrecht 257 two meter square units were excavated. In the 1979 field season, an object that resembles a human maxillary central incisor was recovered. The object is presumed to be from either the 19th or early 20th centuries and its resemblance to a tooth suggests that it could be an effigy or ceremonial object. No similar items have been reported in the literature, though lead “bear tooth” pendants have been reported at Seneca and Cayuga sites.

Quarter inch mesh was used in screening all of the dirt, and some of it was processed with window screen. Eight pieces of lead shot were recovered from the southwestern portion of the site, in the same area as the “tooth.” In the northern portion of the site, a round object that resembles a small cannon ball was recovered. No waste from shot manufacture was recovered anywhere in the site. This suggests that the “tooth” is not a random piece of debris.

Each of the metal items was analyzed using a Niton Field Portable X-ray Fluorescence unit in Alloy mode. Samples were placed in a chamber and data collected for 300 seconds. The “tooth” was found to be composed of roughly 95% Pb, 1.8% Sb and 1.3% Bi, with lesser fractions of Zn, Cu and Mn. Six of the lead rounds are similar in composition being approximately 97% Pb and 1.2% Bi, with trace amounts of Sn and Pd. One musketball is composed of 90% Pb, 5% Sn, 1.5% Mn and 1.1% Bi, with lesser amounts of Pd, Zn, Cu, and Co. The final item of lead shot is composed of 95% Pb, 1.3 % Mn, and 1% Bi, with traces of Zn, Co and Zr. The small cannonball is 99% iron with traces of Pb, Zr and Ti. None of the recovered metal items besides the “tooth” contained antimony.

While there might be lead debris in unexcavated areas of the site, the unique elemental composition of the “tooth” supports the hypothesis that it was intentionally brought to the site and is not a random piece of debris.

2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 7
Sourcing Techniques in Archaeology
Colorado Convention Center: 504
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, 28 October 2007

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 39, No. 6, p. 29

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