8.6. Conclusion

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This research project was an effort to integrate an investigation of regional and theoretical relevance with innovative methodological approaches. The methodological contribution comes primarily in the form of a digital research structure with regional studies, fieldwork planning, data organization, lab analysis, and presentation having taken place entirely in a digital medium. The geographical theme of obsidian procurement and circulation, combined with the methodological needs of surface survey record-keeping, created a necessity for an accurate and systematic geographical data structure, a demand that was met here using GIS software.

The theoretical and regional contribution from this research project returns to a few major themes regarding obsidian procurement and circulation. This research has showed that the chronology of obsidian procurement and use has been expanded, based on diagnostic artifact types collected during a 33 km2surface survey and on eight14C dates selected from five out of eight test excavation units. The economic focus of those who intensified on obsidian production appears to have been pastoral, as the nearness of the workshop to rich grazing and perennial water was apparently more important than proximity to the obsidian quarry. The temporality of obsidian circulation suggests that the regularized contact, probably in the form of camelid caravans, linked long distance trade partners in sustained and perhaps seasonal exchange millennia before it is anticipated in evolutionary models. The emphasis in obsidian procurement appears to have been on large nodules of clear glass, despite fact that the dominant obsidian formal tool morphology the latter part of the prehispanic period was on tiny triangular points. This emphasis on large nodules was perhaps part of a status building competition among early leaders, because in the Titicaca Basin obsidian consumption perhaps represented linkages to the western polities and large nodules were possibly seen as evidence of sustained and direct exchange with outside groups along the western margins of the puna.