--> Petrographic Analysis Of Potter And Potential Temper Sands From The Lesser Antilles Islands

Pacific Section AAPG Convention

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Petrographic Analysis Of Potter And Potential Temper Sands From The Lesser Antilles Islands


The indigenous peoples of the Lesser Antilles Islands in the Caribbean Sea used local materials for temper used in the manufacturing of pottery. The purpose of this geoarcheology project is to help better define the source of materials used to create tempers and the manufacturing techniques of pottery on two islands. From this, interpretations of indigenous peoples interactions, such as trade and migration, can be made. Emphasis is on samples from the islands of Barbados, located on the accretionary prism, and Mustique, located on the arc platform of the Caribbean plate. Each island exhibits distinct geology: Barbados hosts a carbonate reef cap over most of the island with a small exposure of quartzose, deep-marine fan deposits sourced from South America, whereas Mustique is part of the volcanic island arc formed from the subduction of the Atlantic plate beneath the Caribbean plate. Thirty-two sherds from Mustique and 23 sherds from Barbados were collected, thin sectioned and stained for petrographic analysis. Petrographic descriptions were first done to select representative suites for point counting using the Gazzi-Dickinson 300-grain count method. The Barbados sherds exhibit three sand-tempers: grog, quartzose, and carbonate. The Mustique sherds exhibit two sand-tempers: volcaniclastic and feldspathic. Preliminary results from this study show temper composition directly reflects island geology, implying that the temper and pottery was locally made. In contrast, studies of islands from the region, such as on Carriacou, showed that pottery was imported to the island implying an inter-island trade network within the Lesser Antilles Islands.