Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1359–1373 | Cite as

X-ray and neutron-based non-invasive analysis of prehistoric stone artefacts: a contribution to understand mobility and interaction networks

  • M. I. DiasEmail author
  • Z. S. Kasztovszky
  • M. I. Prudêncio
  • A. C. Valera
  • B. Maróti
  • I. Harsányi
  • I. Kovács
  • Z. Szokefalvi-Nagy
Original Paper


Carbonate-rich archaeological artefacts are difficult to identify and correlate between them and with raw materials of such heterogeneous geological sources, especially when only non-invasive analysis is possible. A novel combination of X-ray and neutron-based non-invasive analysis is implemented and used for the first time to study prehistoric stone idols and vessels, contributing to culture identity, mobility and interaction in the recent Prehistory of Southern Iberia. Elemental composition was obtained by prompt gamma activation analysis (PGAA) and external beam particle-induced x-ray emission (PIXE); homogeneity of the stone artefacts and the presence/absence of internal fractures were obtained by neutron radiography (NR). These atomic and nuclear techniques, simultaneously used for complementary chemical information, have been demonstrated to be of great value as they provide non-destructive compositional information avoiding sample preparation, crucial in so singular and rare objects. The obtained results, especially of PGAA, are very promising and useful in general assessments of provenance. The stone artefacts show signs of both nearby and long-distance procurement, as well as of unknown attribution.


PGAA PIXE Neutron radiography Stone artefacts Prehistoric networks Provenance 



C2TN/IST authors gratefully acknowledge the FCT support through the UID/Multi/04349/2013 project. Special thanks also to the CHARISMA project cofunded by the European Commission within the action ”Research Infrastructures” of the “Capacities”, at Budapest Neutron Center, GA No. FP7-228330.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. I. Dias
    • 1
    Email author
  • Z. S. Kasztovszky
    • 2
  • M. I. Prudêncio
    • 1
  • A. C. Valera
    • 3
  • B. Maróti
    • 2
  • I. Harsányi
    • 2
  • I. Kovács
    • 4
  • Z. Szokefalvi-Nagy
    • 4
  1. 1.Centro de Ciências e Tecnologias Nucleares—C2TN. Campus Tecnológico e Nuclear. Instituto Superior TécnicoPolo de LouresLouresPortugal
  2. 2.Centre for Energy ResearchHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Era Arqueologia, Núcleo de Investigação Arqueológica—NIA. Cç. de Santa Catarina, 9C, 1495-705 Cruz Quebrada—Dafundo—Portugal. Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behavior (ICArHEBUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  4. 4.Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, Wigner Research Centre for PhysicsHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary

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