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Prehistoric Obsidian Acquisition and Exchange in West-Central Arizona

April 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Join the NHI and archaeologist Michael Kellett for a presentation of his original research on obsidian trade routes between prehistoric peoples of west-central Arizona.

In this presentation, local archaeologist Michael Kellett, M.A., will present his research on prehistoric obsidian acquisition in the Northern and Southern Sinagua, Prescott, and Cohonina culture areas. Kellett will share the plausible foraging and exchange routes he has mapped through analyzing obsidian artifacts at 608 prehistoric sites in west-central Arizona using a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. He will explain how he has inferred these routes based on the spatial distribution of obsidian artifacts and least-cost path modeling that integrates slope, proximity to water, and vegetation community type.

Michael Kellett has a total of 25 years of experience working with the BLM and Forest Service, including three years supervising the heritage program on the Prescott National Forest. After retiring from federal land management, he completed his MA in Anthropology (research) at NAU and has over three years of experience as a professional archaeologist. His archaeological experience has included inventory and recording of cultural and historic resources in Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, New Mexico, and Oregon. His experience also includes pedestrian survey, excavation, and construction monitoring. In addition to these experiences, Kellett holds a red card as a fire archaeologist, fire-line resource advisor, and burned area emergency response specialist. He has served in these capacities on dozens of wildland fire incidents throughout the Western US for 24 years.

Watch video recording


This free talk is a part of Rooted: The Natural History of People in the Southwest, the second installment of NHI’s humanities speakers series exploring the relationship between people and place in Arizona and the broader Southwest. We invite you to explore how humans have shaped and been shaped by the landscape of our region over time in this series of talks from archaeologists, Indigenous historians, ethnobotanists, activists, and authors.

Rooted events are made possible by Arizona Humanities and sponsored by Findlay Subaru of Prescott.


Natural History Institute


Natural History Institute
126 N Marina St
Prescott, AZ 86301
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