Here in the Anthropology Department, we have much to be grateful for these days. Last month, two new pieces of equipment arrived to the department. The purchase of these was made possible due to the generosity of Mr. Richard H. Cox, former Vice President of Alexander & Baldwin and a long-time friend of Dr. Kenneth P. Emory, who made a substantial donation to support current research in the department.
The first piece of equipment, a portable XRF (X-ray flourescence) instrument, allows us to non-destructively source stone tools in order to track trade and interaction in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. The wonderful thing about this instrument is that it is completely non-destructive, which means that it is well-suited for working with museum collections. Our first two projects, which are focused on obsidian objects from New Britain (from the Ethnology Collections) and Tikopia (from the Archaeology Collections) have already yielded some very interesting preliminary results. For the New Britain-based project, Dr. Robin Torrence, who works at the Australian National Museum, sent us geological samples from known obsidian quarries on and near New Britain. By comparing the concentrations of trace elements found in the geological samples to those contained in the cultural objects, we are able to tell where people obtained the stone used to create their tools.
The second piece of equipment is a wide-format scanner, which is being used to scan maps as part of our ongoing digitization efforts, which are essential for achieving our overall collections management goals. Some of the maps that we are currently scanning also form the basis of a new archaeological field research program on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) that is planned for late 2015. We are very excited about expanding our digital archives and also about our future research endeavors that have been made possible by Mr. Cox’s generous gift!