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Elemental, isotopic, and geochronological variability in Mogollon-Datil volcanic province archaeological obsidian, southwestern USA: Solving issues of intersource discrimination

February 9, 2018

Solving issues of intersource discrimination in archaeological obsidian is a recurring problem in geoarchaeological investigation, particularly since the number of known sources of archaeological obsidian worldwide has grown nearly exponentially in the last few decades, and the complexity of archaeological questions asked has grown equally so. These two parallel aspects of archaeological investigation have required more exacting understanding of the geological relationship between sources and the more accurate analysis of these sources of archaeological obsidian. This is particularly the case in the North American Southwest where the frequency of archaeological investigation is some of the highest in the world, and the theory and method used to interpret that record has become increasingly nuanced. Here, we attempt to unravel the elemental similarity of archaeological obsidian in the Mogollon-Datil volcanic province of southwestern New Mexico where some of the most important and extensively distributed sources are located and the elemental similarity between the sources is great even though the distance between the sources is large. Uniting elemental, isotopic, and geochronological analyses as an intensive pilot study, we unpack this complexity to provide greater understanding of these important sources of archaeological obsidian.