Assistant Professor Nathan Craig and NSF Post-Doc Margaret Brown Vega recently had accepted to the Journal of Archaeological Science a manuscript entitled "Macusani Obsidian from Southern Peru: a Characterization of its Elemental Composition with a Demonstration of its Ancient Use". The international team of co-authors includes colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution; the University of Missouri; the University of Arizona; the University of California at Los Angeles; the University of Flinders, Australia; and Universidad Mayor Nacional de San Marcos, Lima.
Transparent obsidian artifacts have been reported for the northern Lake Titicaca Basin. Based on instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) of these artifacts a distinct chemical group was identified. Yet, the location of the source of transparent obsidian in the southern Andes remained unreported in the archaeological literature. This paper reports on the chemical composition and geographic location of a source of transparent obsidian from the Macusani region of Peru. Through the use of INAA and portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) we demonstrate that Macusani obsidian or macusanite comprises (at least) two chemical groups. One of these groups was used for making artifacts during the Archaic Period. Artifacts made of this obsidian were found more than 120 km from the source and yet, one third of the obsidian artifacts encountered at Macusani were from the nonlocal source of Chivay which is 215 km to the southwest.