Figurines, flint clay sourcing, the Ozark Highlands, and Cahokian acquisition

Thomas E. Emerson, Randall E. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the pinnacle of Eastern Woodlands' prehistoric cultural development, Cahokia has been interpreted as a political and economic power participating in prestige-goods exchanges and trade networks stretching from the Great Plains to the South Atlantic. Among the more spectacular of the Cahokian elite artifacts were stone pipes and figurines made from a distinctive red stone previously identified as Arkansas bauxite. In this research, we used a combination of X-ray diffraction, sequential acid dissolution, and inductively coupled plasma analyses to establish the source of the raw material used in the manufacture of the red figurines and pipes that epitomize the Cahokian-style. Our research demonstrates that these objects were made of locally available flint clays. This finding, in conjunction with other evidence, indicate Cahokian exploitation of many mineral and stone resources focuses on the northern Ozark Highlands to the exclusion of other areas. These findings indicate that we must reassess the direction, extent, and role of Cahokian external contacts and trade in elite goods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-101
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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