A Systematic Approach to Obsidian Source Characterization

  • Michael D. Glascock
  • Geoffrey E. Braswell
  • Robert H. Cobean
Part of the Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science book series (AAMS, volume 3)


A systematic approach to sample collection, chemical analysis, and statistical evaluation of obsidian sources is recommended before significant numbers of artifacts should be analyzed. Multivariate statistical methods based on Mahalanobis D 2 enable robust rejection of erroneous source assignments and lead to sourcing of artifacts with a very high degree of confidence. These multivariate procedures can also assist in identifying and evaluating abbreviated analytical methods that are more rapid and less expensive. Test cases based on obsidian data from sources in Mesoamerica are presented.


Mahalanobis Distance Source Group Confidence Ellipse Bivariate Plot Group Centroid 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Glascock
    • 1
  • Geoffrey E. Braswell
    • 2
  • Robert H. Cobean
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Reactor FacilityUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Instituto Naciconal de Antropología e HistoriaMexico CityMexico

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