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Abstract  

The k 0-method of standardisation for instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) has been used at the OPAL research reactor to determine the elemental composition of three certified reference materials: coal fly ash (SRM 1633b), brick clay (SRM 679) and Montana soil (SRM 2711). Of the 41 certified elements in the three materials, 88 percent were within five percent of the certified values and all determinations were within 15 percent of the certified values. The average difference between the measured and certified values was 0.1 percent, with a standard deviation of 4.1 percent. Since these reference materials are widely used as standards in the analysis of archaeological ceramics by INAA, it has been concluded that the INAA facility in Australia is particularly well-suited for nuclear archaeometry.

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Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Authors: Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, Claire Lenehan, Michael Glascock, John Bennett, Attila Stopic, Jamie Quinton, Allan Pring, and Keryn Walshe

Abstract  

Ochre is a significant material in Aboriginal Australian cultural expression from ceremonial uses to its application on many types of artifacts. However, ochre is a complex material, with associated surrounding minerals potentially challenging the overall analysis. In recent literature several studies have attempted to characterize ochre by a variety of techniques to understand procurement and trade. However, ochre is difficult to differentiate on major elemental or mineralogical composition and requires a detailed analysis of its geochemical “fingerprint”. Neutron activation analysis (NAA) provides the high sensitivity (sub-ppm), precision and accuracy in multi-elemental analysis required for ochre. The elements of interest for ochre generally include rare earth elements (REEs) and certain transition metal elements as well as arsenic and antimony. Data from relative comparator NAA (MURR, University of Missouri, USA) is compared with data from k 0-NAA OPAL (ANSTO, Lucas Heights, Australia). A discussion of the two methods will be examined for their utility in “fingerprinting” the provenance of ochre. The continuing importance of NAA to archaeometry will also be discussed.

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