US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Journal of Archaeological Science 33 (2006) 1588-1599; doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.02.012


Isotope and trace-metal analyses were used to determine the origin of plants used to manufacture prehistoric textiles (basketry and matting) from archaeological sites in the western Great Basin. Research focused on strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen (18O/16O) isotope ratios of willow (Salix sp.) and tule (Schoenoplectus sp.), the dominant raw materials in Great Basin textiles. The oxygen-isotope data indicated that the willow and tule used to produce the textiles were harvested from the banks of rivers or in marshes characterized by flowing water and not from lakes or sinks. The strontium-isotope data were useful in showing which plants came from the Humboldt River and which came from rivers headed in the Sierra Nevada.