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Exploring the Exchange of Archeological Pottery through Statistical Analyses of Geochemical Trace Elements

Investigating the exchange of goods in any society can provide insights into a range of social factors such as migration patterns, trade networks and social hierarchy.For archaeological research, exchange can be difficult to recognize among people who lived in the past as it is not always clear where an artifact was originally produced.In recent decades, archaeological research on exchange has increasingly relied on the use of geological sourcing methods in order to infer the movement or exchange of stone tools and pottery remains.In order to investigate the movement of these common artifact types, archaeologists use a combination of multivariate statistical methods in order to infer the location of geologic origin and compare this with the location of archaeological recovery.While these statistical methods are useful when strong clustering exists in the data, they are far less beneficial when higher variability within geochemical data is present.Using compositional data from pottery sherds recovered in the Kuril Islands of the Russian Far East, this talk reviews the multivariate data analysis methodology for geologic sourcing methods as currently practiced by the archaeological community.In addition, the potential for incorporating archaeology recovery location data with geochemical signatures is explored as an aid for identifying the location where artifacts originated.The goal of this seminar is to not only present this unique archaeological and statistical problem but also get to gather feedback concerning alternative solutions to this issue.