GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 143-9
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


MARSAGLIA, Kathleen M., Department of Geological Sciences, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91130-8266, LAWRENCE, John A., Department of Geology, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA 91330 and FITZPATRICK, Scott M., Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403,

Pottery is the most ubiquitous artifact type in the Caribbean prehistorically, yet there are few geochemical and mineralogical studies that help illuminate how ancient Amerindian groups acquired and used different raw materials for their production. We applied actualistic sand/temper provenance techniques pioneered by Dickinson in the study of Pacific island colonization, to the study of sand inclusions in pottery (either sand added as temper or naturally occurring with clay sources) from selected islands in the Lesser Antilles. Temper sand compositional modes were compared to those of modern beach sands and local geologic units to test the likelihood that pottery was made by Amerindians on a given island vs. imported to that island. This major petrographic study included modal analysis of 93 thin sections of pottery fragments from the islands of Barbados (23), Mustique (32), and Union (13), as well as nine thin sections of local beach sand from Mustique that may have been used for tempering ceramics. An additional 25 thin sections of sherds from older (ca. AD 400-900) occupation layers at the Grand Bay site on Carriacou were analyzed to complement prior work on sherds from younger layers at the site. We identified several temper groups in these sherds that had been previously defined: Quartzose, Igneous and Placer; and defined several new temper groups: Altered Feldspar, Altered Epidote, Altered Silica and Mixed. Results demonstrate that in some cases, islanders relied predominantly or exclusively on local materials as tempering agents (e.g., Barbados), while in other cases (e.g., Carriacou), islanders appear to have imported their pottery or materials from several locations.