Gunflint samples from 44PG66, ca. 1680-1740

Chemical Testing of Gunflint

Contributed by Christopher Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, and former Regional Archaeologist at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Capitol Region.

The presence of gunflint can be seen as a representational marker for human interaction and exchange. Millions of gunflints were disseminated by explorers and settlers and were supplied to indigenous populations. In order to determine if Colonial Period sites prior to 1750 had gunflints reflecting the country of origin, the chemical composition of the American gunflints was compared to a widespread sampling of European source materials. Regional specimen material was collected to determine source identification. Gunflint samples from 44PG66, a domestic site at Flowerdew Hundred, were involved in a trace element chemical characterization analysis (LA-ICP-MS) to determine gunflint sources by laser-ablation at the University of California, Long Beach. This study utilizes the latest technology to establish the chemical analysis of gunflint and its source of origin. One of the final outcomes of the study was to assist researchers in Europe and America in developing new and innovative research designs.