Determination of phase compositions in ceramics from Gobi desert using complementary diffraction techniques
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The city Khara Khoto is located in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. This city was deserted in the late 14th century and rediscovered in the beginning of the 20th century. In the present study, ceramic sherds typical for the Khara Khoto area have been analysed using neutrons, laboratory X-ray diffraction, synchrotron radiation X-ray diffraction as well as optical microscopy as complementary probes in extracting information on the mineral phase compositions as well as on the firing conditions during the pottery production. The data evaluation was performed with the standard diffraction analysis package GSAS and the new developed program AmPhOrAe. The dominating phase is mullite (~60 %) compared to a variable mixture of SiO2 quartz and cristobalite phases (~35 %) and feldspar as a minority phase. Refiring experiments on one of the sherds allow estimating the firing temperatures of the ceramics within the region of 1,150 and 1,250 °C.