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  1. Abstract

    We report on a multi‐method sourcing study of 35 mineral pigment artefacts from the Middle Stone Age site of Pinnacle Point 5–6 North (PP5–6 N), dating from about 90–50 ka. The artefacts were analysed and compared with geological samples from seven sources using neutron activation analysis (NAA), and supplemented by data from X‐ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Our preliminary results suggest that the occupants of PP5–6 N likely used at least two local and one currently unidentified and possibly non‐local Fe oxide mineral pigment sources. The mineral pigment artefacts derived from the latter source(s) exhibited manganese (Mn) enrichment with concentrations well above those observed in all sampled source deposits in the study area, suggesting a distinctive formation process. The proportions of the Mn‐enriched mineral pigment artefacts within the PP5–6 N assemblage vary over time, but tend to occur at higher rates in the glacial Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4 deposits, which holds potential implications for changes in the use of sources over time, increased mobility or increased exchange during this period.

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  2. Abstract

    Our study situates the classic period center Matacanela, located in southern Veracruz, Mexico, within the context of shifting regional political‐economic systems. Specifically, we assess the potential for utilizing neutron activation analysis (NAA) of pottery in the study of changing interactions through a focus on three ceramic wares: Coarse Orange, Fine Orange, and Coarse Brown. NAA identified four compositional groups, suggesting that Matacanela selectively utilized ceramics from a variety of sources, but the center's inhabitants overwhelming used ceramics that were only occasionally exploited by their contemporaries in the nearby Catemaco and Tepango valleys. Instead, the center's primary ceramic exchange partners were in the southern Tuxtlas foothills. This divergent pattern of ceramic exchange parallels earlier obsidian exploitation differences that revealed participation in the networks of the western Tuxtla uplands as well as the southern foothills and centers within eastern Olman. The findings of this study contribute to (1) the geological characterization of ceramic resources used by ancient Gulf lowland societies, (2) to the comparative ceramic database in a region that was an important nexus for diverse cultural traditions spanning Mesoamerican prehistory, and (3) the refinement of our knowledge relevant to the divergent strategies employed by groups.

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  3. Abstract

    Northwestern Patagonia is located in a tectonically active part of the southern Andes (Argentina), which has facilitated the formation of obsidian, including pyroclastic deposits that have been affected by geomorphic processes, resulting in a complex obsidian landscape. To date, the geomorphic relocation of obsidian in the landscape has not been a focus of systematic research, and this hampers our understanding of prehistoric human mobility. We present an updated assessment of the regional availability of different obsidian types based on results from our research program, which combines geoarchaeological survey and geochemical characterization to understand the properties and distribution of obsidian. This robust “source‐scape” provides the foundation for reconstructing patterns of lithic provisioning and discard. Our results suggest that interpretations of obsidian availability across the landscape should be more nuanced than is typically acknowledged. Based on our improved “source‐scape,” we discuss the patterns observed in an archaeological X‐ray fluorescence database. When compared with the geoarchaeological reconstruction of obsidian availability, the archaeological record conforms to a distance‐decay pattern. Contrary to previous interpretations, we suggest that the distribution of obsidian types is not isomorphic with human home ranges. This geoarchaeological research program provides a basis for integrating the archaeological record of different Andean regions.

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  4. Zerboni, Andrea (Ed.)
    Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in East Asia adopted pottery, yet the ability to reconstruct circulation, mobility, and exchange has been hampered, in part, due to problematic regional geochronology. The driving forces behind pottery adoption is unclear. The purpose of this study is to test our results of the first systematic petrographic pottery sourcing from the pre-Younger Dryas by utilizing neutron activation analysis. We examine samples from the Sankauyama I site on Tanegashima Island, southern Japan, dating to the Incipient Jomon, ca. 14,000/13,500–12,800 cal BP, with a well-defined geochronology. Our NAA results corroborate with the petrographic study suggesting that pottery was mainly produced in-situ, but some vessels were transported long distances from another island. Changing from high mobility, sedentary Incipient Jomon foragers made pottery, occasionally investing in long-distance ceramic vessel transportation and exchange likely involving ocean crossing. This may be associated with a risk-buffering strategy in the context of rising sea levels and isolation of Tanegashima. 
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