The Ancient Ash Chemistry Project explores multi-element chemical characterization of ash from ancient hearths at archaeological sites known as the Homol'ovi ruins in Arizona . This project is a continuation from the pilot project published in volume 28 (1998) of the Journal of Archaeological Science. Dr. Joe Stewart is part of the team that has been working with ICP-AES (inductively coupled plasma - atomic emission spectroscopy) at the Lakehead University Instrumentation Laboratory to obtain the element abundance data, which then is analyzed by multivariate methods. The ancient Homol'ovi ash samples were provided by the Arizona State Museum , University of Arizona , Tucson .
In this project, modern potential fuelwood samples from the vicinity of the sites are also ashed and analyzed by ICP-AES to develop a comparative collection and database. The aim is to chemically identify the plant taxa used as fuels when no morphologically identifiable charcoal remains. If successful, this will not only augment our knowledge of Homol'ovi cultural practices but will also contribute to the developing methodology of archaeobotany and paleoecology.