Comparison and Contrast Between XRF and NAA: Used for Characterization Of Obsidian Sources in Central Mexico



Chemical analysis of the trace elements in the natural volcanic glass obsidian is a proven analytical tool used around the world to conduct provenance investigations on obsidian artifacts. Studies of obsidian artifacts are used to investigate long-distance exchange, study prehistoric migration patterns, identify the preferred sources of raw materials, detect political boundaries, show differential access to raw material sources for elites vs. non-elites, etc. Two of the most successful methods used to analyze obsidian raw materials and artifacts are neutron activation analysis (NAA) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis. In this chapter, both methods are described and compared. An application of both NAA and XRF to conduct a comprehensive characterization of the obsidian sources in central Mexico is presented.


Neutron Activation Analysis Epithermal Neutron Source Sample Bivariate Plot Neutron Capture Cross Section 



The author wishes to express his appreciation of support to colleagues Robert Cobean and Jeff Ferguson. He also acknowledges the assistance of undergraduate Christopher Oswald who helped to prepare and analyze many of the obsidian samples by XRF. Any errors or omissions in this work are the responsibility of the author. The Archaeometry Lab at MURR is supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DBS-0802757).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Reactor CenterUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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