Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) of Nok sculptures in I. P. Stanback Museum


The purpose of this research is to conduct provenance study of the Nok sculptures in the I.P. Stanback Museum via instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA). Several samples at different points on the sculptures were collected and then irradiated with thermal/epithermal neutrons from the PULSTAR reactor. INAA results indicate that (1) ceramic samples from the sculptures have different elemental concentrations from those of soil samples in which the sculptures may have been buried; (2) ceramic samples of the two different Nok sculptures share similar elemental concentrations; (3) ceramic firing processes cannot change the chemical composition of clay significantly.

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    Because the limited number of samples, the confidence ellipses are not given in Figs. 4 and 6 .


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This research is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Evans-Allen project number SCX-312-06-16. The authors would like to thank Mr. Giordano Angeletti for photographs of sculptures as well as Mr. Patro Ulmer, Curator, and Mr. Davion Petty, Program Coordinator of the I. P. Stanback Museum for facilitating access to the artifacts in the collection.

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Correspondence to Z. J. Sun.

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Sun, Z.J., Martin, F., Cai, Q.S. et al. Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) of Nok sculptures in I. P. Stanback Museum. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 313, 85–92 (2017).

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  • Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA)
  • Provenance
  • Principal component analysis (PCA)
  • PULSTAR reactor
  • Nok culture