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Archaeological Science Collections

One of the Department of Anthropology’s major research initiatives is to provide resources for the geochemical characterization of archaeological materials from its holdings and field research.  The museum's Elemental Analysis Facility (EAF) contains instrumentation capable of rapidly establishing the chemical and mineralogical composition of archaeological materials.  As part of their field research programs, Field Museum scientists conduct regional surveys of raw materials potenti

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One of the Department of Anthropology’s major research initiatives is to provide resources for the geochemical characterization of archaeological materials from its holdings and field research.  The museum's Elemental Analysis Facility (EAF) contains instrumentation capable of rapidly establishing the chemical and mineralogical composition of archaeological materials.  As part of their field research programs, Field Museum scientists conduct regional surveys of raw materials potentially used by prehistoric craft workers which form the basis of our growing geoarchaeological collections.  These collections currently include ceramic raw materials from Papua New Guinea and the Andes, Basalts and other volcanic rocks from the Lake Titicaca Basin of Peru, and obsidian from sources in the western United States.

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Collections

Collections of clays from the valleys of Peru and Chile help us understand ceramic production and economy among the early states of the Andes.
Collections of Basalts, Andesites, and Rhyolites from the Lake Titicaca Basin allow us to identify the source quaries for artifacts and architecture at regional archaeological sites dating to the Middle Horizon.
Material records of pre-contact cultures include ceramics and textiles from settlements thriving between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 1300 on the Peruvian coast. These pieces came to light through the excavations of Field Museum Curators George Dorsey in the 1890's and Donald Collier...
Our collection of clays and other ceramic raw materials from the Sepik coast of northern Papua New Guinea helps us understand the history of potting and exchange networks in the western Pacific.
Our growing collection of obsidian from sources in the Mountain West allow us to identify the geological origin of obsidian artifacts housed in our collections, as well as those acquired during ongoing archaeological research projects.