Monday, January 16, 2012

We exported a bunch of artifacts

Just before Christmas I received two boxes of artifacts, sent FedEx from Mexico. We exported a bunch of potsherds, obsidian tools, and charcoal for various technical analyses. Angela was working in the lab all fall, so she had the honor of lugging these boxes to Mexico City and hassling out the final steps of paperwork. To get artifacts out of Mexico, we have to document them thoroughly (with catalogs, descriptions, drawings, photos, etc.) and then convince the Mexican archaeology authorities that we are doing rigorous analyses and have a valid reason for exporting artifacts. Once they approve, officials have to seal up the boxes, and obtain the export forms for Mexican and U.S. Customs. Then someone (Angela in this case!) has to get the material either to the U.S. directly (by car or plane), or to a FedEx office for shipping.

So, now we will submit 20 or 30 charcoal samples for accelerator radiocarbon dating at the University of Arizona; we will send sherds off to Jenny Meanwell for thin sectioning and petrographic analysis (see Angela's post on selecting this sample), and Adrian Burke will get a shipment of obsidian for sourcing using X-Ray flourescence.

We sampled a couple of nearby obsidian sources that are not well documented in the literature in 2010. I thought we had a blog post on this sampling, but it looks like in all the haste and activity at the end of the lab season, no one got around to writing this up. I guess we were so overwhelmed at visiting the Otomi Ceremonial Center that everyone forgot that we only saw that place because we were in the area looking for obsidian. We found a hill completely covered with obsidian. It was wild, which is why I am having such fun in the nice photo that Brad took of me that day. Unfortunately, Brad and Adrian don't think that we have much obsidian from this source, which is pretty low quality material. But we did get source samples and the chemistry will tell......