- Mineralogical analysis and provenancing of ancient ceramics using automated SEM-EDS analysis (QEMSCAN®): a pilot study on LB I pottery from Akrotiri, Thera
- Journal of Archaeological Science
- Volume | Issue number
- 38 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
A wide range of existing mineralogical and geochemical methodologies such as optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction, manual scanning electron microscopy, ICP-MS and INAA have been utilised in the analysis of ancient ceramics, in attempts to elucidate patterns of regional trade and interaction. However, advances in automated scanning electron microscopy with linked energy dispersive spectrometers (SEM-EDS) have created the potential to offer a seamless combination of textural and mineralogical data based on the acquisition of energy dispersive spectra that has so far been unattainable with existing techniques. In this pilot study on pottery from the Cycladic Bronze Age site of Akrotiri (Thera), we have quantified the mineralogy of the ceramics based on automated SEM-EDS using QEMSCAN® technology and imaged the textures of the ceramics through compositional mapping. Thirteen samples were analysed and, based upon the automated analysis, four groups of ceramic compositions are defined. These data are consistent with, but also refine, previous traditional petrographic examination of the ceramic samples, and enable the likely provenance of the raw materials used in the ceramic manufacture to be identified. This technique allows the acquisition of fully quantitative data, not only for the larger inclusions within the ceramics but also for the typically finer-grained groundmass/matrix, whilst also providing the overall texture of the ceramic.
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