Dissertation Research: Rock Sourcing of San Stone Artifacts by Neutron Activation Analysis
Sarunas Milisauskas Principal Investigator
MetadataShow full item record
Under the direction of Professor Sarunas Milisauskas, Mr. Hugh Jarvis, a graduate student at SUNY Buffalo, will conduct field and laboratory research to collect data for his doctoral dissertation. As part of a larger archaeological project, he will address the question of how late prehistoric hunters and gatherers adapted to harsh desert-like conditions. Over a decade of research in the Zeekoe valley of South Africa has provided an excellent data base which maps approximately 16,000 lithic scatters which are the result of prehistoric activities. On this basis archaeologists have attempted to reconstruct human use of this landscape and document how it changed over time. In particular they wish to know how human groups were organized. Mr. Jarvis will examine this question through the analysis of hornfel, a locally available mineral which was used to make stone tools. Hornfel outcrops are widespread within the valley and preliminary work indicates that many are chemically distinct. Mr. Jarvis will conduct an extensive geological collection program and use neutron activation analysis to distinguish among sources. He will then similarly characterize stone tools from a number of archaeological sites. A comparison of tools to sources will provide a basis to determine how people moved over and subdivided the landscape and, thus, elucidate social organization. This research is important for several reasons. It will increase our understanding of how groups at simple technological levels adapt to harsh and unpredictable environments. It will also help to develop a general technique which should prove useful in a wide variety of archaeological situations. Finally, it will assist in the training of an extremely promising young scientist.