Mineralogy and mineral chemistry of southeastern Piedmont soapstones
Radko, Nicholas Cyril
MetadataShow full item record
Soapstone is a soft, carvable metamorphic rock of ultramafic protolith that has been quarried for millennia by cultures around the globe to be fashioned into functional, decorative, and ritual objects. Archaeologists have long sought a methodology to reliably source soapstone artifacts to their geologic origin in order to better understand routes and mechanisms of exchange. This study uses traditional geologic methods to characterize prehistoric soapstone quarries in the Piedmont of the southeastern U.S. A combination of modal mineralogy and mineral chemistry data has been successful in uniquely characterizing three Late Archaic quarries—two from Soapstone Ridge, GA and one from the Hammett Grove Meta-igneous Suite, SC. A total of 10 Late Archaic soapstone vessel sherds from the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Satilla drainages in the Georgia Coastal Plain were also analyzed for comparison. Modal mineralogy, low-Ca amphibole and ilmenite compositions proved most useful in distinguishing samples.