Dr. John Kantner, University of North Florida

Lobo Mesa Archaeological Project

Materials Analysis

corrugated potLMAP ceramic research has pursued two related avenues. The first is compositional analysis, which is looking at the trace elements in pottery from each of the prehistoric communities in the LMAP study area. Dr. Nate Bower at The Colorado College has assisted LMAP with compositional analysis of over 200 pottery samples from five of the LAMP communities using X-ray fluorescence. The resulting data measured the relative degrees of exchange between the five communities. This work was followed by petrographic studies of a subset of these sherd samples.

More recently, LMAP ceramics have been examined using laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). A pilot study of Dr. Kevin Vaughn and graduate student Sarah Cross of Purdue University analyzed the mineral pigments and slips of a sample of painted Blue J sherds to determine how systems of pottery production and exchange shifted with the emergence of the Chaco Canyon pilgrimage center to the north.This was followed by a more extensive study conducted in collaboration with Dr. Hector Neff of California State University–Long Beach on a large collection of painted and utility ceramics.

In addition to the compositional analysis, LMAP ceramics are also the subject of stylistic research. Through the analysis of different designs on the pottery, the LMAP project hopes to identify symboling behaviors indicative of both cooperation and factionalism. This research, which is still ongoing, has identified certain Chacoan communities that expressed a more centralized stylistic identity, while others exhibited heterogeneous stylistic patterning indicative of a much more factionalized social and political situation. Community and environmental analyses suggest that the structure of the immediate environment contributed to processes of factionalism and centralization.

turquoise pendant

Various researchers also are using LMAP materials to explore other questions. Currently, Dr. Doug Kennett and his students at Pennsylvania State University are using Blue J turkey shell for radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analyses. New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies geoarchaeologist Cynthia Hotujec is working with ornamental materials, especially turquoise, to understand where the raw material for personal ornamentation was coming from, and where the finished items were produced. Students at The Colorado College working under the direction of chemist Dr. Nate Bower have explored various methods for tracing chert artifacts to their sources, while Dr. Andrew Duff and his students at Washington State University worked with most of the obsidian artifacts from the Blue J community to determine their geological origins. All of these studies are revealing that Chaco-era networks of exchange were extensive, even though materials for most everyday items came from the immediate region surrounding Blue J.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0715996. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.