Mineralogical Approaches to Sourcing Pipes and Figurines from the Eastern Woodlands, U.S.A.

Sarah U. Wisseman, Duane M. Moore, Randall E. Hughes, Mary R. Hynes, Thomas E. Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Provenance studies of stone artifacts often rely heavily upon chemical techniques such as neutron activation analysis. However, stone specimens with very similar chemical composition can have different mineralogies (distinctive crystalline structures as well as variations within the same mineral) that are not revealed by multielemental techniques. Because mineralogical techniques are often cheap and usually nondestructive, beginning with mineralogy allows the researcher to gain valuable information and then to be selective about how many samples are submitted for expensive and somewhat destructive chemical analysis, thus conserving both valuable samples and funds. Our University of Illinois team of archaeologists and geologists employs Portable Infrared Mineral Analyzer (PIMA) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and Sequential acid dissolution/XRD/Inductively coupled plasma (SAD-XRD-ICP) analyses. Two case studies of Hopewellian pipes and Mississippian figurines illustrate this mineralogical approach. The results for both studies identify sources relatively close to the sites where the artifacts were recovered: Sterling, Illinois (rather than Ohio) for the (Hopewell) pipes and Missouri (rather than Arkansas or Oklahoma) for the Cahokia figurines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-715
Number of pages27
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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