Prologue to uses of chemical residues to make statements about human activities

Vance T. Holliday, Denise Lawrence-Zuniga, Victor Buchli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Soil chemistry provides the potential for interpreting the archaeological record without necessarily resorting to artifacts, historical documents, ethnoarchaeological observations, or experiments. The range of studies incorporating new technological developments, such as mass spectrometry and multi-element analyses, for analyzing and interpreting the chemical residues found at archaeological sites or modern contexts are increasing in the literature. However, the dilemmas of interpretation concentrate on evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques. Analytical approaches to how scientists make use of chemical residues to make statements about the past, discussed here, expand the potential of the breadth of techniques to investigate daily life activities and further our understanding of the materiality of social life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Chemical analysis
  • Chemical residues
  • Human activities
  • Social space
  • Soil chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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