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.
KeywordsNeutron 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).
- Baum, E. M., Knox, H. D., & Miller, T. R. (2002). Nuclides and Isotopes: Chart of the Nuclides, 16th edition. New York, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.Google Scholar
- Boksenbaum, M. W., Tolstoy, P., Harbottle, G., Kimberlin, J., & Neivens, M. D. (1987). Obsidian industries and cultural evolution in the Basin of Mexico before 500 B.C. Journal of Field Archaeology, 14, 66–75.Google Scholar
- Cobean, R. H. (2002). A World of Obsidian: The Mining and Trade of Volcanic Glass in Ancient Mexico. Mexico, University of Pittsburgh Latin American Archaeology.Google Scholar
- Eerkens, J. W., King, J., & Glascock, M. D. (2002). Artifact size and chemical sourcing: studying the potential biases of selecting large artifacts for analysis. Society for California Archaeology Newsletter, 36, 25–29.Google Scholar
- Erdtmann, G., & Soyka, W. (1979). The Gamma Rays of the Radionuclides. Weinheim, Chemie.Google Scholar
- Firestone, R. B., Shirley, V. S., Baglin, C. M., Chu, S. Y. F., & Zipkin, J. (1996). The Table of the Isotopes, 8th edition. New York, Wiley.Google Scholar
- Glascock, M. D., Braswell, G. E., & Cobean, R. H. (1998). A systematic approach to obsidian source characterization. In M. S. Shackley (Ed.), Archaeological Obsidian Studies (pp. 15–65). New York, Plenum.Google Scholar
- Glascock, M.D., Elam, J. M., & Cobean, R. H. (1988). Differentiation of obsidian sources in Mesoamerica. In R. M. Farquhar, R. G. V. Hancock, and L. A. Pavlish (Eds.), Archaeometry 88, Proceedings of the 26th International Archaeometry Symposium (pp. 245–251). Toronto, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
- Hester, T. R. (1972). Trace element analysis of obsidian from the site of Cholula, Mexico. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, 16, 105–110.Google Scholar
- Jack, R. N., & Heizer, R. F. (1968). ‘Fingerprinting’ of some Mesoamerican obsidian artifacts. Contributions of the University of California Archaeological Research Facility, 5, 81–100.Google Scholar
- Pires-Ferriera, J. W. (1975). Formative Mesoamerican Exchange Networds with Special Reference to the Valley of Oaxaca. Memoirs of the Museum of Anthropology No. 7. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
- Sansonetti, J. E., Martin, W. C., & Young, S. L. (2005). Handbook of Basic Atomic Spectroscopic Data (version 1.1.2). Available online: http://physics.nist.gov/Handbook. Gaithersburg, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- Weigand, P. C., Harbottle, G., & Sayre, E. V. (1977). Turquoise sources and source analysis: Mesoamerican and the southwestern USA. In T. K. Earle and J. E. Ericson (Eds.), Exchange Systems in Prehistory (pp. 15–32). New York, Academic.Google Scholar