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Formative and Classic Period Obsidian Procurement in Central Mexico: A Compositional Study Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

  • David M. Carballo (a1), Jennifer Carballo (a2) and Hector Neff (a3)

Abstract

This report presents the results of a compositional study using laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to examine central Mexican obsidian procurement at four sites dating to the Formative and Classic periods. The study demonstrates LA-ICP-MS to be a highly accurate obsidian sourcing technique, with results that are directly comparable to instrumental neutron activation analysis. It documents a shift circa 600 B.C. in which Middle Formative villages in Tlaxcala began to obtain obsidian almost exclusively from sources located in the Mesa Central, when they had previously obtained approximately 50 percent from Mesa Central sources and 50 percent from sources located in the Sierra Madre Oriental. This shift broadly coincided with the development of large regional centers in Tlaxcala-Puebla and suggests a linkage between the local political evolution occurring at this time and increased interactions with the Mesa Central economic sphere, including the Basin of Mexico. Obsidian workshop dump deposits next to Teotihuacan’s Moon Pyramid, dating to a millennium later, demonstrate the continued reliance on predominantly Mesa Central sources but also diversified procurement that drew on several sources. The Teotihuacan deposits exhibit the preferential utilization of particular sources depending on the types of implements being produced.

Resumen

Este informe presenta los resultados de un estudio utilizando ablación por láser y espectrometría de masas con fuente de ionización de plasma acoplado inductivamente (LA-ICP-MS) para examinar el aprovisionamiento de obsidiana en cuatro sitios del altiplano mexicano, datados entre los períodos Formativo y Clásico. Los análisis con LA-ICP-MS demuestran que es una técnica altamente precisa para este tipo de estudios de obsidianas, cuyos resultados son directamente comparables con los de activación neutrónica. Este estudio indica un cambio en el sistema de obtención de obsidiana ca. 600 a.C., donde las aldeas del Formativo en Tlaxcala comienzan a obtener material casi exclusivamente de fuentes ubicadas en la Mesa Central. Anteriormente, lo hacían en proporciones similares entre la Mesa Central (50 por ciento) y otras fuentes localizadas en la Sierra Madre Oriental (50 por ciento). Este cambio coincide ampliamente con el desarrollo de los grandes centros regionales en Tlaxcala-Puebla, y sugiere una conexión entre la evolución política local en esos momentos y un incremento en las interacciones con la esfera económica de la Mesa Central, incluyendo la Cuenca de México. Los talleres de obsidiana próximos a la Pirámide de la Luna de Teotihuacan, datados en el milenio siguiente, demuestran la continuidad en la dependencia predominante de las fuentes de la Mesa Central, pero también el aprovisionamiento diversificado, empleando varias fuentes. Los depósitos de Teotihuacan exhiben la utilización preferencial de fuentes de aprovisionamiento particulares, dependiendo de los tipos de instrumentos que fueron fabricados.

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References

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Formative and Classic Period Obsidian Procurement in Central Mexico: A Compositional Study Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

  • David M. Carballo (a1), Jennifer Carballo (a2) and Hector Neff (a3)

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