Paper No. 16-4
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM
COPPER ON THE LATE PREHISTORIC NATIVE LANDSCAPE OF THE LOWER LAKE MICHIGAN AREA: (PXRF CHARACTERIZATION) CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE HOXIE FARM SITE (COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS)
Excavations at the Main Occupation Area of the Hoxie Farm site (Cook County, Illinois), occupied by Upper Mississippian peoples from the 14th- early 15th centuries, yielded the largest late prehistoric copper industry from the period in the Midwest (n=273). Native peoples of the Midwest used copper in its native form over millennia for utilitarian and ritual purposes. A rare and valued material, its appearance in late prehistory among peoples who were not part of the Mississippian sphere raises several questions for archaeological researchers interested in the chronology, technology, and social use contexts of the material as well as its composition, material origin, and movement across the cultural landscape. Before the application of modern scientific characterization instrumentation, the answers to the latter questions could not be determined with certainty. This paper reports the results of PXRF (portable x-ray fluorescence) elemental characterization of 136, or 50% of the Hoxie Farm copper industry. The results presented in the larger context of what is known from other compositional studies of native copper enables discussion of their value and limitation. For archaeologists, this includes looking to place sites in chronological (temporal) position vis-à-vis the potential for European material influence.