Long-Distance Exchange of Obsidian in the mid-Atlantic United States

  • Carolyn D. Dillian
  • Charles A. Bello
  • M. Steven Shackley


Continuing research into the possibility of super-long-distance exchange of obsidian materials has revealed additional archaeological specimens bolstering theories of exchange across the North American continent. A collection of obsidian artifacts from East Coast archaeological sites has been analyzed using X-ray fluorescence to reveal West Coast geologic provenance. Increasing numbers of specimens with well-documented archaeological provenience suggest that super-long-distance exchange existed prehistorically. Though transport existed on a continental scale, we argue the mechanism for exchange happened on a personal scale through hand-to-hand and person-to-person interaction.


Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis Archaeological Site Rhyolitic Lava Lithic Material Archaeological Specimen 



This research was supported in part by a Social Sciences Research Grant from Princeton University and a research grant from the Archaeological Society of New Jersey. We would like to thank Jack Cresson; Megan Springate, Monmouth County Historical Association; Christina Rieth, New York State Museum; Joe Connelly; Tamara Johnston, Bryn Mawr College; Ed Lenik; Glen Saunders; Al Luckenbach; Dick George; Peabody Museum, Harvard University; University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; American Museum of Natural History; and the Massachusetts Archaeological Society for providing samples for analysis. Any errors are, of course, our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn D. Dillian
    • 1
  • Charles A. Bello
    • 2
  • M. Steven Shackley
    • 3
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.FEMA Region 3PhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.University of California-BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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