Instrumental Analytical Techniques for Archaeological Geology

Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


A simple search of either modern scholarly or popular scientific literature confirms the relevance of chemical analyses to archaeology. Chemical analyses are not only used to determine the chemical makeup of an artifact but also to reveal clues to age, diet, and health when applied to both organic and inorganic materials. Chemistry is equally important in the preservation and restoration of archaeological materials. The first use of chemistry in the study of artifacts can be traced to German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth’s 1796 studies of Greek and Roman coins, other metal artifacts, and some Roman glass in which he pioneered the use of gravimetric analysis (Goffer 2006). Gravimetric analysis is the determination of an element through the measurement of the weight of the insoluble product of a reaction with that element. Since Klaproth’s first foray, there have been numerous examples of the application of analytical chemistry to archaeological materials of all sorts by historical figures in both chemistry and physics—Sir Humphrey Davy, Jon Davy (Sir Humphrey’s brother), Jöns Jakob Berzelius, Jon Voelker, Michael Faraday, Marcelin Berthelot, and Friedrich August von Kekulè (various in Meschel 1980; Goffer supra; and Pollard and Heron 1996).


Electron Spin Resonance Magnetic Susceptibility Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy Neutron Activation Analysis Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy 
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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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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