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Provenance, weathering, and technology of selected archaeological basalts and andesites

Hunt, Patrick Norman; (1991) Provenance, weathering, and technology of selected archaeological basalts and andesites. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Basalt and andesite have been used consistently in human history as stone media for grinding tools, for architectural elements, and as material for monumental sculpture. This study examines some selected archaeological basalt or andesite use with several aims. One primary aim is to examine problems of determination of provenance of selected Inca andesite contexts in Peru, Neolithic and Canaanite basalt contexts in the Levant, and an Olmec basalt context in Mexico where these contexts may compare or contrast in mineralogy, technology, or other areas. Another major aim has been to attempt characterisation of archaeological weathering of basalt and andesite as it is similar to or differs from geological weathering. This is the first appraisal of this problem which has both made application of prior studies of geological weathering and has also made use of comparative analysis of archaeological contexts beyond the regional level, using the same cultural contexts mentioned above. Another important original addition to a study of archaeological weathering of basalt and andesite (if not stone in general) is an appraisal of stoneworking as it may accelerate weathering. A tentative dating application is also suggested. A third important focus of this study regards questions of technology and uses of basalt and andesite. A formulation of one method of enquiry into human criteria of selection for stone is provided for the first time as a basis of approach to technology. Availability, workability, durability, and aesthetic appeal are some potential criteria of selection suggested in this study. The study also provides a global overview of some common uses of basalt and andesite with a survey of the known technology of stoneworking applicable to the selected contexts. Other original contributions include assembly and experiments with a portable field laboratory for optical petrology in remote archaeological contexts (and pioneering a thin section mounting medium for stone) and appraising the above cultural contexts for suggesting authentication techniques of stone artefacts. Instrumental techniques used in this study include petrography, scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X ray spectroscopy, and electron probe microanalysis.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Provenance, weathering, and technology of selected archaeological basalts and andesites
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Earth sciences; Archaeological weathering
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112019
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