QUANTITATIVE METHODS OF CHERT SOURCE IDENTIFICATION AS A TOOL FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION
Preliminary analyses included examination of elemental composition using energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) and portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF) instruments, standardized color measurement with a spectrophotometer, and initial isotopic analysis via laser ablation and mass spectrometer. Results varied from method to method in terms of identifying diagnostic properties, but did suggest further research would be beneficial. EDXRF revealed that the presence of Barium might be a distinguishing characteristic of Cobden-Dongola chert. Spectrophotometer data provided quantified color ranges that were largely shared between the various chert sources. Mass spectrometry indicated that Strontium is present in sufficient quantity to perform isotope ratio analysis, which may be effective for identifying sources. ISGS/ISAS efforts will result in a geochemical library of chert samples for comparison with artifacts from archaeological sites. The cultural patterns that source identification can illuminate will provide important insight into the lives of ancient native people of North America.