I recently had the opportunity to visit the Caddo Nation’s administrative complex near Binger, OK to create 3D scans/models of Caddo burial vessels, including a few vessels from the Poole Site (3GA3) below, that had been previously repatriated. As the models are completed, they are being added to our digital repository along with photographs and a large number of qualitative and quantitative attributes. Further, data papers are being written for vessels from each site that outline the hardware, software and methods used to generate these scan data. After the data papers are published, all scans from that site are then added to our study of 3D geometric morphometrics and rotational symmetry.
As the collection of 3D scan data continues to grow, so does the complexity of our analyses. It is our hope that we will soon be able to begin comparative morphometric studies of the variable elements (demarcating between the various forms of bottle necks, rims on carinated bowls, shifts in base sizes and shape, etc.) from sites thought to occupy the same temporal period (based on additional data from seriations, design analyses and radiocarbon assays). After that, we can begin to make more meaningful forays into the evolution of the various shapes through time.
While it has taken time to get to this point, we should be able to begin making some substantive leaps in the near future. As with most worthwhile endeavors, taking the time to be skeptical and to refine our approach has proven to be very helpful, and we are indebted to many of our colleagues for their help and constructive criticisms along the way.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our colleagues in the various repositories and museums where we operate, and we are also very thankful to have had the support of and permission of the Caddo Nation to access and document these collections prior to reburial.