The history of the Lawrence Berkeley national laboratory instrumental neutron activation analysis programme for archaeological and geological materials

F. Asaro, D. Adan-Bayewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory pottery provenance group developed standards and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) methods that are used at many archaeometry laboratories around the world. The background and development of 'Standard Pottery' and of methods for INAA are described. Early pottery provenance studies are described, and other research programmes, involving obsidian and magmatic mixing, the origin of the stone used for the Colossi of Memnon, and the 'Plate of Brass', are mentioned. Research work by the Laboratory included the discovery of the world-wide iridium anomaly and extensive subsequent research on what has come to be known as the 'Asteroid Impact Theory'. Characteristics of the analytical programme for pottery provenance work, including overall aims, precision and accuracy, intercalibration, and irradiation and measurement protocols, are discussed. New research areas developed in the past 15 years, to broaden the usefulness of chemical compositional data for archaeological investigation, and examples of recent work, are described. This research, which makes use of high-precision X-ray fluorescence analysis in addition to INAA measurements on sample splits, includes distinguishing the products of different workshops located at the same production site, studies on the significance of the distribution of silver in archaeological pottery and the use of high-precision chemical compositional data as an aid for making chronological distinctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalArchaeometry
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2007

Keywords

  • Analysis of geological materials
  • Chronological differentiation
  • High-precision x-ray fluorescence analysis
  • Instrumental neutron activation analysis
  • Isadore perlman
  • Laboratory history
  • Lawrence berkeley national laboratory
  • Pottery provenance
  • Silver

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