Obsidian Hydration Dating

  • Irving Friedman
  • Fred W. Trembour
  • Richard E. Hughes
Part of the Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science book series (AAMS, volume 2)


A freshly-made surface of obsidian (volcanic glass of rhyolitic composition) will absorb water which slowly penetrates by diffusion into the body of the artifact. Although the depth of penetration can be measured by various methods, it is generally determined by microscopic examination on thin sections of the artifact cut normal to the surface. The rate of penetration of water is dependent upon several factors, primarily the chemical composition of the glass and the temperature at which the hydration occurred. Discussions are given of techniques for measuring the hydration thickness, measurement (or estimates) of ambient hydration temperature, chemical composition of the obsidian, and the conversion of hydration thickness to dating the time of manufacture of the artifact. Comparisons are made between the results of obsidian hydration and other dating methods.


Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis Ground Temperature Trace Element Composition Volcanic Glass Hydrated Layer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irving Friedman
    • 1
  • Fred W. Trembour
    • 1
  • Richard E. Hughes
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Isotope GeologyUnited States Geological SurveyDenverUSA
  2. 2.Geochemical Research LaboratoryPortola ValleyUSA

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