We address three main topics in this paper. First, we briefly review the history of neutron activation analysis (NAA) as an archaeological tool in the United States and Canada. Second, we assess the current potential for undertaking NAA in North America. Third, we comment on methodological and technical issues in archaeometric NAA that are raised by other papers included in this special section.
Differences in composition of archaeological artifacts may only in distinct cases be interpreted in terms of provenance differences.
This point is discussed with examples: the large number of elements analyzed with precision and the relative lack of sensitivity
of many of them to the presence of crystalline inclusions, made of NAA the method most commonly used for provenance studies
For more than a decade, archaeometrists have been analyzing archaeologically recovered human bones in an attempt to relate their trace element contents to diet. Although the problems of diagenesis have been recognized, the variable effects have been difficult to establish. In this paper, an assessment is made of the analytical reliability of the INAA determination of major and trace elements, using their short-lived radioisotopes in both regular and defatted modern cancellous bone, and in modern cortical bone. This modern bone information is then compared with analytical data for bones from Egyptian mummies ranging in age from 2000 to 3700 BP, and with normallyburied 11 th century French bones. Diagenetic effects may readily be detected by the measurement of elevated quantities of V, Mn, and Al in soil-contaminated bones. The Ca to P concentration ratios and the organic content may also be used to separate bone from diagenetically altered archaeological specimens.
Authors:R. Hancock, W. Fox, T. Conway, and L. Pavlish
Since it is now possible, with some reliability, to separate native from European copper using chemical analysis, we now sort archaeological copper into geological (North American) or smelted (European) groups and thereby help address issues relating to the cultural impact of earliest aboriginal — European contact in northeastern Ontario. Twenty six metal samples from 11 archaeological sites, dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, were analyzed by INAA. The results were compared with reference data for native copper and European trade copper and indicate that of the 17 copper samples in the suite, an archaeologically-unexpected high number of 12 were made of native copper. The majority of these samples (7 of 8) derived from the post-contact early 17th century Providence Bay Odawa village. The remaining samples were made of brass (8) and zinc (1). Two of the brass samples, from Point Louise, have remarkably similar chemistries and probably came from the same object, or at least from the same batch of brass.
Use was made of thermal and other techniques to characterise three native asphalt samples. The purpose was to support archaeological
investigations reconstructing their thermal history and composition. The first sample (from a Roman quarry in central Italy)
proved to have 37% impurities, no sign of oxidation or degradation and to have never been heated to above 100°C. The second
sample (from a Roman ship sunk south of France) was pure, but partially oxidised, with a saturated fraction in its structure.
Analyses of the latter sample, obtained from the eye of a Thracian bronze head, revealed that the asphalt had been heated
to over 100°C and then mixed with natural wax.
Authors:J. Morales, M. Dinator, F. Llona, J. Saavedra, and F. Falabella
A method to prepare thin samples of archeological materials such as potteries and bones for PIXE analysis is presented. In this method fine powder of the matter under analysis is suspended and deposited on polycarbonate filters. The process takes place in a chamber where clean air and the powder are mixed and forced to pass through the filter. Thin samples with typical mass density of about 50 g cm–2 are obtained. The uniformity of the mass deposit has been optically tested with a He–Ne laser showing fluctuations of the order of one percent. Samples of clay standards from NIST were prepared with this method and analyzed by PIXE. The agreement between our results and NIST values is very good, with linear correlation factors close to unity. The method was applied to study the elemental composition of clay from different fragments of a Chilean pre-Hispanic pottery piece. These results are very consistent showing that the analysis of samples from a small fragment can represent the whole piece.
Authors:J. Hallett, E. Keall, V. Vitali, and R. Hancock
Archaeological reconnaissance in the Yemen Arab Republic produced samples of mediaeval Islamic ceramics in a 100 km2 region centred at Zabid. The ceramics dated from 700 A. D. to 1750 A. D. and initial research indicated that they were all locally made products. Twelves types of ceramics were selected for sampling on the basis of stylistic decoration; nine types were red bodied and three types were white bodied. Six laboratory samples of each type were subjected to neutron activation analysis for the short-lived isotope producing elements using the SLOWPOKE reactor at the University of Toronto. The results showed very tight sherd groupings, with all the red wares of discrete composition and all the white wares of a different discrete composition. Hence the same two clay sources have been utilized over a thousand years. However, a comparison of both ware types with Nile alluvium red ware and Aswan white ware from Egypt, tested for the same elements, produced unexpected results. Although the white wares from Egypt and Yemen were quite different chemically, the red wares showed remarkable chemical similarity. In order to subject the data to a more rigorous statistical testing, a multivariate discriminate analysis programme was applied. The analysis confirmed that the Yemeni and Egyptian white wares could easily be separated. The Yemeni red and Nile alluvium red wares were also separated into the two groups with a very high prediction rate, in spite of the fact that, on visual inspection of the data, no substantial differences were evident. It is clear, therefore, that artifact analysis must be conducted with due respect given to the archaeological context, the elemental chemistry, and sound statistical procedures.
Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) was used to determine 29 elements in pumice from several volcanic sources
(Milos, Nisyros, Yali, Kos and Thera) in the Aegean Sea, Greece, to establish a data basis for the identification of pumice
and tephra layers found in archaeological context. The widespread products of the “Minoan Eruption” of the Thera volcano can
now be distinguished clearly from all other sources and will be used to establish a datumline in the Eastern Mediterranean
Region in the second millenium B.C. The elements Al, As, Ba, Ca, Ce, Co, Cr, Cs, Dy, Eu, Fe, Hf, K, La, Lu, Mn, Na, Nd, Rb,
Sb, Sc, Sm, Ta, Ti, Th, U, V, Yb and Zr were determined in 14 samples from Milos, 25 samples from Nisyros, 7 samples from
Yali, 7 samples from Kos and 17 samples from Thera. Two cycles of irradiation and four measurement runs were applied. The
results were compared and suitable groups, typical for each island, were classified. Due to insufficiently comparable data
sets, the criteria for distinguishing the different sources have not been revealed by previous studies. This basic knowledge
was used to relate pumice from excavations in Tell-el-Dab'a (Egypt) and Bronze Age Knossos to their specific volcanic origin.
A kazah–magyar együttműködés 2005-ben megszületett ötlete 2007-től valósult meg. Az együttműködés célja a korai türk régészeti örökség kutatása. Ebből a magyar fél (ELTE BTK Régészettudományi Intézet) a Zsetiszu vidéke kora középkori településeinek kutatását vállalta fel. Így kezdetben négy helyszín (Merke, Aszpara, Dzsájszán 27–Terekti 1 és Tölebi) felmérését végeztünk el, 2008-ban pedig megkezdtük a Tölebi határában található 9–10. századi vár régészeti kutatását. A tanulmány célja az eddigi eredmények rövid bemutatása.
Authors:D. Hong, S. Yi, R. Galloway, and T. Tsuboi
The single aliquot additive dose method of equivalent dose determination was applied to quartz from heated archaeological materials, using luminescence stimulated by blue light. The quartz was extracted from pieces of pottery and kiln in an area of archaeological interest in Suwon region, south of Seoul, Korea. The dates obtained were in good agreement with the ages derived by archaeological evidence. It is concluded that the additive dose single aliquot method of determining equivalent dose, with correction for re-use of the aliquot, should contribute significantly to optically stimulated luminescence dating procedures, particularly when the amount of sample separated is limited. Additionally, some luminescence images from quartz samples using a CCD camera are presented and relationships between AGTL, TL and OSL are discussed.