ArchaeoCafé Podcast – Episode 2-10 – Hard rock archaeology: An interview with Adrian Burke

hosted by Otis Crandell and Tommy Ng

In this episode we talk with Adrian Burke about the application of geosciences in archaeology and his research on tracing the movement of stone artefacts and raw materials in ancient times.

Listen to this episode online:



Some useful terminology and links

A term used in archaeology to refer to stone artefacts and the raw materials used to produce them.

lithic analysis
The analysis of stone tools and other artefacts using scientific techniques.

lithic technology
A broad array of techniques used to produce usable tools from various types of stone. The earliest stone tools were recovered from modern Ethiopia and were dated to between two-million and three-million years old.

A sub-field of archaeology which uses the techniques and subject matter of earth sciences to examine questions related to archaeology and the past.

A branch of petrology (itself a sub-field of geology) that focuses on detailed descriptions of rocks – including the mineral content and the textural relationships within the rock.

X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
A method used in archaeology (as well as various other fields) to determine the element and chemicals that a material made up of. It is commonly used in archaeology to analyse stone, glass, ceramics, and metals.

Centre de référence lithique du Québec (Quebec lithic reference collection)
A comparative lithic reference collection that was created by archaeologist Yvon Codère to help archaeologists working in Quebec and the greater Northeast. It contains over 500 geologic samples of rocks that were potentially used in the past to make stone tools.


Selected reading

Mackenzie Inuit Lithic Raw Material Procurement in the Lower Mackenzie Valley: The Importance of Social Factors
by Glen MacKay, Adrian L. Burke, Gilles Gauthier and Charles D. Arnold
Arctic, 2013, Vol. 66(4): p. 483-499.

Refining the Paleoindian lithic source network at Cliché-Rancourt using XRF
by Adrian L. Burke, Gilles Gauthier and Claude Chapdelaine
Archaeology of Eastern North America, 2014, Vol. 42, p. 101-128

The Ramah Chert Quarries
by Curtis, Jenneth, Pierre M. Desrosiers, Jamie E. S. Brake & Adrian L. Burke
in the book “Ramah Chert: A Lithic Odyssey” published by Parks Canada and Avataq Cultural Institute in 2017, pages 25-42.

Coupling Lithic Sourcing with Least Cost Path Analysis to Model Paleoindian Pathways in Northeastern North America
by Jonathan C. Lothrop, Adrian L. Burke, Susan Winchell-Sweeney and Gilles Gauthier
American Antiquity, 2018, Vol. 83(3), p. 462-484


About Adrian Burke

Dr. Burke is an archaeologist at the Université de Montréal. His research focuses on the ancient history of northeastern North America and in particular the acquisition and use of stone in the past. He makes use of various methods from fields such as geology, chemistry, and physics. Dr. Burke manages the Centre de référence lithique du Québec (Quebec lithic reference collection) and is the director of the L’axe Laurentien depuis l’an deux mille avant notre ère project.






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