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Non-destructive Applications of Wavelength XRF in Obsidian Studies

  • Annamaria De Francesco
  • M. Bocci
  • G. M. Crisci
Chapter

Abstract

In this study, representative obsidian samples of all the geological outcrops of archaeological interest from the Mediterranean area (Lipari, Pantelleria, Sardinia, Palmarola, and the Greek islands of Melos and Gyali) were analyzed using the normal destructive procedures employed in rock analysis by XRF (crushing, powdering, and pelletizing). The non-destructive XRF analysis was conducted on splinters taken from the original geological pieces, with the shape deliberately worked to be similar to the refuse usually found at archaeological sites. Since the analysis was conducted on raw geological samples, intensity ratios of the suitably selected chemical elements were used, instead of their absolute concentrations, to avoid surface effects due to the irregular shape. The comparison between concentration ratios (obtained by traditional XRF methods) and the intensity ratios of the selected trace elements (obtained from the non-destructive methodology) shows that the different domains of the chemical composition, corresponding to the geological obsidians of the source areas, are perfectly equivalent. Similarly, complete archaeological obsidians, from Neolithic sites, may be analyzed and their provenance determined.

With non-destructive XRF methodology, only five chemical elements, Nb, Y, Zr, Rb, and Sr, have been selected, as they are sufficient to characterize the different source areas, and they are particularly indicative of the genetic processes that produced obsidian.

This method was applied to numerous obsidian artifacts found at several Neolithic Italian sites, and about 1,400 archaeological samples have been analyzed; 96% have been successfully assigned to source.

The proposed nodestructive WXRF method, due to its sensitivity, low cost, and high speed, is surely an extremely valid instrument for the attribution of the provenance of the archaeological obsidian.

Keywords

Mediterranean Area Archaeological Site Fission Track Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometer Greek Island 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annamaria De Francesco
    • 1
  • M. Bocci
  • G. M. Crisci
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità della CalabriaRendeItaly

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