Establishing Early Chert Use with PXRF: A Case Study from the Cooper's Ferry Site

Alex J. Nyers and Loren G. Davis

Chert artifacts are commonplace in Columbia River Plateau archaeological sites; however, establishing the provenance of cherts has traditionally proven difficult, limiting their utility in understanding prehistoric mobility and trade. To address this problem and study early chert use in the southeastern Plateau, portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF) and multivariate statistical methods were used to characterize elemental properties of six chert sources from Idaho’s Salmon River basin. PXRF study of over 700 chert artifacts from the Cooper’s Ferry site were compared against these sources, with results indicating the majority of artifacts came from a single but as yet unsampled chert source. 

Presented at the 2012 Society for American Archaeology meeting. Click here to view the poster.