Presentation Type

Poster

Title of Abstract

Elemental Analysis of Ceramic Artifacts from Kolomoki (Georgia) to Reconstruct Pre-Columbian Trade Routes in the Southeastern United States

Abstract

This study investigates the trace element composition of Middle to Late Woodland period (100-700 AD) pottery samples from the Kolomoki site in southwest Georgia using a non-destructive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (pXRF) to identify the source(s) of clay used. Few studies of ceramic sourcing have been done in the southeastern United States, so this project provides preliminary results for future research. Determining if the potsherds were fired from clay sources close to the site or from elsewhere acts as an indicator of trade and cultural contact. The artifacts selected for the study were of varying dimensions and decorative styles hypothesized to have been brought to Kolomoki for ceremonial purposes. Portable XRF, a low-cost, non-destructive method, allowed us to analyze a statistically significant number of ceramic samples. Multiple analyses on each potsherd ensure the results represent the clay rather than any slip, temper, or surface contaminants. Trace elements including strontium and zirconium and major elements including iron were used to analytically determine source groups. Results were compared with previous studies in Florida and Georgia. Particularly stylistic differences and trace compositions suggest only a few of the ceramics came from elsewhere. Kolomoki may not have been the social center oft-attributed to it.

Categories

Interdisciplinary

Research Type

Course Related

Mentor Information

Dr. Robert H. Tykot

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Elemental Analysis of Ceramic Artifacts from Kolomoki (Georgia) to Reconstruct Pre-Columbian Trade Routes in the Southeastern United States

This study investigates the trace element composition of Middle to Late Woodland period (100-700 AD) pottery samples from the Kolomoki site in southwest Georgia using a non-destructive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (pXRF) to identify the source(s) of clay used. Few studies of ceramic sourcing have been done in the southeastern United States, so this project provides preliminary results for future research. Determining if the potsherds were fired from clay sources close to the site or from elsewhere acts as an indicator of trade and cultural contact. The artifacts selected for the study were of varying dimensions and decorative styles hypothesized to have been brought to Kolomoki for ceremonial purposes. Portable XRF, a low-cost, non-destructive method, allowed us to analyze a statistically significant number of ceramic samples. Multiple analyses on each potsherd ensure the results represent the clay rather than any slip, temper, or surface contaminants. Trace elements including strontium and zirconium and major elements including iron were used to analytically determine source groups. Results were compared with previous studies in Florida and Georgia. Particularly stylistic differences and trace compositions suggest only a few of the ceramics came from elsewhere. Kolomoki may not have been the social center oft-attributed to it.