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Science at FMNH : Ep. 40 - Ancient Trade and Exchange

To better understand how ancient peoples traded and exchanged goods and services curators in the Anthropology Department conduct field and laboratory research on the archaeology of ancient exchange. 

The Field Museum’s Elemental Analysis Facility contains instruments that can classify ancient objects, like ceramic pots or glass beads, both chemically and minerologically.  This allows researches to compare the chemical and minerals found in these objects to raw materials, such as clay and sand.  These data allow museum researchers to understand how these objects were produced and whether or not they were transported or exchanged.  This gives us important insight to how prehistoric economic and social networks operated, and to how our own economic and social systems work today.


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