My interests in a material science approach to archaeological remains developed through research that was aimed at identifying the production, use and exchange of pottery among maritime hunter-gatherers.
I am particularly interested in the use of elemental characterization methods (ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS and pXRF) as a means to explore the movement and exchange of artifacts. In my dissertation and an article in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (Gjesfjeld 2018), I outline the results of characterization analysis by highlighting the differential amount of pottery movement between different cultural occupations. Broadly speaking, I identified during the Epi-Jomon occupation of the Kuril Islands, pottery was largely made and used locally. However, during the Okhotsk occupation of the island chain, pottery appears to have been moved and exchanged over greater distances as evidenced by a wider diversity of clay compositions.
Collaboration with Dr. Luc Moreau has also led to research into the provenance of flint artifacts from the European Upper Paleolithic. This work favors a centered log-ratio transformation of compositional data in combination with discriminant analysis to provide more robust evaluation of geochemical source groupings (as developed by Filzmoser et al. 2012) Results of this work can be found in our article in Archaeometry (Moreau et al. 2018).
As highlighted in an upcoming book chapter in Ceramics in Circumpolar Prehistory: Technology, Lifeways, and Cuisine (edited by Peter Jordan and Kevin Gibbs) I drew upon a range of archaeometric methods to investigate the production and use of pottery in the Kuril Islands (Gjesfjeld 2018). This included x-ray diffraction to measure mineralogy and petrography to examine pottery porosity and non-plastic inclusions. Organic residue analysis served as the primary method for inferring pottery use with results indicating a strong association of pottery with marine mammal lipids particularly in Okhotsk pottery. These results provide an intriguing hypothesis that the unusually high quantity of pottery in this remote region could be linked to the widespread production and distribution of marine oil.
2019 The Paradox of Pottery in the remote Kuril Islands. In Ceramics in Circumpolar Prehistory: Technology, Lifeways, and Cuisine, edited by Peter Jordan and Kevin Gibbs, pp. 81-103. Cambridge University Press.
Moreau, Luc GH, Alexander Ciornei, Erik Gjesfjeld, Peter Filzmoser, Sally A. Gibson, Jason Day, Phillip R. Nigst, Pierre Nioret, Ruaridh A. Macleod, Loredena Nita, and Mircea Anghelinu
2018 First geochemical sourcing of ‘Balkan flint’ and ‘Prut flint’ from Paleolithic Romania:
potential, limitations and future directions. Archaeometry. DOI: 10.1111/arcm.12433
2018 The Compositional Analysis of Hunter-Gatherer Pottery from the Kuril Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.03.049
Filzmoser, P., Hron, K., and Templ, M.
2012 Discriminant analysis for compositional data and robust parameter estimation, Computational Statistics, 27, 585–604