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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Alejandro Figueroa
  • Brandi L MacDonald
Award Date:07/29/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 148,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 148,000
  • FY 2021=$148,000
Start Date:08/01/2021
End Date:07/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Investigating Obsidian and Ochre Exchange
Federal Award ID Number:2105350
Program:SPRF-Broadening Participation
Program Officer:
  • Josie S. Welkom
  • (703) 292-7376

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Missouri Research Reactor
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

This award was provided as part of NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (SPRF) program. The goal of the SPRF program is to prepare promising, early career doctoral-level scientists for scientific careers in academia, industry or private sector, and government. SPRF awards involve two years of training under the sponsorship of established scientists and encourage Postdoctoral Fellows to perform independent research. NSF seeks to promote the participation of scientists from all segments of the scientific community, including those from underrepresented groups, in its research programs and activities; the postdoctoral period is considered to be an important level of professional development in attaining this goal. Each Postdoctoral Fellow must address important scientific questions that advance their respective disciplinary fields. Under the sponsorship of Dr. Brandi MacDonald at the Archaeometry Laboratory of the University of Missouri Research Reactor, this postdoctoral fellowship award supports an early career scientist investigating the various dimensions of ochre and obsidian exchange among small-scale societies. Using a number of specialized archaeometric techniques and a combination of field, collections, and laboratory work, this project is reconstructing the networks used to procure, distribute, and use these key geological resources. Ultimately, this research uses the long-term perspective provided by archaeology to better understand what exchange networks can tell us about how small-scale societies navigated the competing demands for (in)equality, reciprocity, cohesion, and conflict. The dynamics of interaction and exchange in small-scale societies are still not well understood, particularly in areas where chiefdoms developed alongside state-level societies. It has often been assumed that these societies imitated their neighbors or were smaller and less developed versions of them, despite decades of archaeological and ethnographic research showing otherwise. This project systematically examines the structure and scale of the networks used by societies to exchange ochre and obsidian by evaluating the degree to which these were controlled by powerful individuals and polities (if at all), how they changed over time, and whether and when these were impacted by major local and regional transformations, including the development and collapse of large polities and intense periods of drought. To do this, the project is reconstructing the consumption patterns of obsidian and ochre by identifying and characterizing sources of each and conducting a large-scale provenance study on rock art and obsidian samples from a diverse range of contexts using neutron activation analysis (NAA), laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS). Equally as important, this project provides opportunities for training and collaboration with researchers and local indigenous communities in the use and application of archaeometric techniques and in the study and protection of archaeological heritage. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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