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Multi-method geoarchaeological analysis of the prehistoric White Creek village site

Montag, Sarah (2020) Multi-method geoarchaeological analysis of the prehistoric White Creek village site. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This thesis represents a pilot program to incorporate minimally-invasive geochemical methods to research prehistoric village sites in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho. The goal of this research is to characterize prehistoric activity zones at the White Creek site (10-CR-576) through chemical analysis of soil samples collected in 2016. Soil samples were analyzed for magnetic susceptibility and elemental concentration. To measure elemental concentration, samples were analyzed a with handheld portable X-Ray Fluorescence (HHpXRF) instrument. Additionally, soil samples were prepared with a soil extraction and analyzed using ICP-MS, but the results of this analysis were unavailable at the time this thesis was defended. Spatial variations of elemental concentrations were compared to one another and to magnetic susceptibility data with correlation and Student T-test calculations. This research found that concentrations of P, Ba, Ca, and Sr covary across the samples. Variation in P correlated to magnetic susceptibility of the soils. These four elements were depleted in ash-enriched samples from the site. Ca was enriched within samples adjacent to those enriched in ash. Combining this data suggests that fires for animal processing/cooking were used in this location by prehistoric occupants. This supports the conclusions of other researchers that characterize the White Creek site as a Late Prehistoric winter campsite. Variation in other elements, particularly K, may be explained by natural geologic processes rather than anthropogenic activity. This study concludes that prehistoric anthropogenic signatures in the soil at the White Creek site are still preserved despite thousands of years of erosion and historic/modern use of the terrace by campers. The variation is not caused by recent natural and/or anthropogenic processes. The results of this study lead the researcher to recommend incorporating geochemical methods in more archaeological research projects in the area.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Montag, Sarahsarahkmontag@gmail.comskm550000-0003-4017-4497
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberCapo, Rosemaryrcapo@pitt.edu
Committee MemberBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.edu
Committee MemberCanaday, Timtim.canaday@usda.gov
Thesis AdvisorHanks, Bryanbkh5@pitt.edu
Date: 16 August 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2020
Approval Date: 16 August 2020
Submission Date: 18 July 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 73
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: University Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: geoarchaeology, soil chemistry, North American archaeology, portable XRF, magnetic susceptibility
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2020 16:33
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2020 16:33
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/39383

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