Document Detail

Basalt Pb isotope analysis and the prehistoric settlement of Polynesia.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  7892194     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The prehistoric settlement of the Pacific Ocean has intrigued scholars and stimulated anthropological debate for the past two centuries. Colonized over a few millennia during the mid to late Holocene, the islands of the Pacific--displaying a wide diversity of geological and biotic variability--provided the stage for endless "natural experiments" in human adaptation. Crucial to understanding the evolution and transformation of island societies is documenting the relative degree of interisland contacts after island colonization. In the western Pacific, ideal materials for archaeologically documenting interisland contact--obsidian, pottery, and shell ornaments--are absent or of limited geographic distribution in Polynesia. Consequently, archaeologists have relied increasingly on fine-grained basalt artifacts as a means for documenting colonization routes and subsequent interisland contacts. Routinely used x-ray fluorescence characterization of oceanic island basalt has some problems for discriminating source rocks and artifacts in provenance studies. The variation in trace and major element abundances is largely controlled by near-surface magma-chamber processes and is broadly similar between most oceanic islands. We demonstrate that Pb isotope analysis accurately discriminates rock source and is an excellent technique for charting the scale, frequency, and temporal span of imported fine-grained basalt artifacts found throughout Polynesia. The technique adds another tool for addressing evolutionary models of interaction, isolation, and cultural divergence in the eastern Pacific.
M I Weisler; J D Woodhead
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  92     ISSN:  0027-8424     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  1995 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1995-04-20     Completed Date:  1995-04-20     Revised Date:  2009-11-18    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1881-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
Historic Preservation Office, Majuro, Marshall Islands.
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MeSH Terms
Lead / analysis*
Pacific Islands
Paleontology / methods*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Isotopes; 7439-92-1/Lead

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