Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


DEMOUTHE, Jean F., California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118,

People have been using minerals and rocks to create and build things for thousands of years. The analysis and sourcing of these natural materials can provide insight into the processes used to acquire and work them, their intended and past uses, and the ancient people and civilizations that created them.

Weapons, tools, building materials, and talismanic and decorative objects can often be characterized by the materials from which they are made. This is not a new idea, but advances in mineralogical technology over the years now allows researchers to be very precise in locating the sources of geologic materials and age dating of materials or processes.

Combined with stratigraphic and geomorphic data, minerals can reveal information about soils, fills (including graves), and earthen constructions. Minerals can also be used in characterizing ceramics and pigments.

Since most anthropologists or archaeologists do not have formal training in petrology or mineralogy, collaboration between these researchers and geologic professionals is critical to providing the best and most accurate data for each site and object.