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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A wide variety of materials, including lithics, manufactured goods, and food circulated within and between communities in the North American Arctic, including fish and sea-mammal oil, dried meat and fish, skins and furs, walrus ivory, and wood, as well as nephrite jade, soapstone, chert, obsidian, slate, graphite, pyrite, galena, jet, lignite coal, amber, quartz crystal, and hematite. This review considers only the inorganic materials. To establish provenance, Arctic researchers employ standard methods including trace-element characterization, geochemistry, petrography, stable isotope values, visual appearance, and geochronology. The geographic coverage extends across the North American Arctic from western Alaska to Labrador, considering each material’s precontact uses, geological source locations, and distribution patterns in time and space, concluding with the prospects and status of provenance studies.

Keywords: provenance studies, prehistoric trade, trace element characterization, jade, chert, soapstone, slate

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