Quantitative Modeling of Soil Chemical Data from Inductively Coupled Plasma--Optical Emission Spectroscopy Reveals Evidence for Cooking and Eating in Ancient Mesoamerican Plazas
Recent advances in archeological soil chemistry provide new ways to examine the use of space where little or no material evidence persists. Drawing on ethnoarchaeological studies, which demonstrate that certain human activities chemically impact soils, this paper compares the results of chemical analyses of soils from two plazas in a prehispanic settlement in Honduras. Chemical compounds were extracted from the surfaces of soil particles using a mild extractant composed of hydrochloric and nitric acids and then characterized using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy. Exploratory data analysis and geostatistics allowed the chemical data to be spatialized across the plaza surfaces. When combined with associated artifact data, the chemical information suggests that the plazas were used, in part, for the preparation and consumption of foods and beverages.
Archaeological Chemistry: Analytical Techniques and Archeological Interpreataion