Due to the improvement and increased use of geochemical fingerprinting techniques during the last 25 years, the archaeological compositional data of stone tools has grown exponentially. The Pofatu Database is a large-scale collaborative project that enables curation and data sharing. The database also provides instrumental details, analytical procedures and reference standards used for calibration purposes or quality control. Thus, Pofatu ensures reproducibility and comparability between provenance studies.
Aymeric Hermann, Robert Forkel, Andrew McAlister, Arden Cruickshank, Mark Golitko, Brendan Kneebone, Mark McCoy, Christian Reepmeyer, Peter Sheppard, John Sinton, Marshall Weisler. Pofatu, a curated and open-access database for geochemical sourcing of archaeological materials. Scientific Data, 2020; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41597-020-0485-8
Compositional analyses have long been used to determine the geological sources of artefacts. Geochemical “fingerprinting” of artefacts and sources is the most effective way to reconstruct strategies of raw material and artefact procurement, exchange or interaction systems, and mobility patterns during prehistory. The efficacy and popularity of geochemical sourcing has led to many projects using various analytical techniques to produce independent datasets. In order to facilitate access to this growing body of data and to promote comparability and reproducibility in provenance studies, we designed Pofatu, the first online and open-access database to present geochemical compositions and contextual information for archaeological sources and artefacts in a form that can be readily accessed by the scientific community. This relational database currently contains 7759 individual samples from archaeological sites and geological sources across the Pacific Islands. Each sample is comprehensively documented and includes elemental and isotopic compositions, detailed archaeological provenance, and supporting analytical metadata, such as sampling processes, analytical procedures, and quality control.