Spectroscopy and Archaeology: A Look Into the Ancient Past

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Spectroscopy magazine is pleased to welcome you to the “Spectroscopy and Archaeology: A Look Into the Ancient Past” landing page, one of two landing pages in our “Spectroscopy and Archaeology” content series!

This landing page houses several articles that focus on the great work of spectroscopists that used spectroscopic techniques to facilitate technological and scientific advancements in archaeological science. Spectroscopic techniques that are focused on in this content series include laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), Raman spectroscopy, portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analysis, and Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, to name a few.

Click on a story below to begin your journey!

Featured Q & A Interviews

Spectroscopic Techniques Reveal Sophistication in Hunting Tools of Middle Pleistocene Humans
Editor Patrick Lavery of Spectroscopy talked to two co-authors of a study that analyzed information about a 300,000-year-old wooden hunting stick found in modern-day Germany.

Click here to access this Q & A:
https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/spectroscopic-techniques-sophistication-hunting-tools-middle-pleistocene-humans

Using Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (PXRF) to Explore the Origins of the Sarsen Megaliths at Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that is considered a British cultural icon and one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. The origin of the sarsen megaliths that comprise Stonehenge have interested archaeologists for decades. What can spectroscopic techniques, such as portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (PXRF), reveal about the sarsen megaliths and where they originated? David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton in Brighton, United Kingdom, is exploring this question.

Click here to access this Q & A: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/using-portable-x-ray-fluorescence-spectrometry-pxrf-to-explore-the-origins-of-the-sarsen-megaliths-at-stonehenge

Featured Articles

An Archaeometric Investigation Into the Former Cataract House Hotel via Elemental Analysis

Although much is known about the overall design of the Cataract House Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York, a clearer understanding of its construction phases, as well as its role in the Underground Railroad, could be determined from spectroscopic analysis in tandem with ongoing archaeological investigations.

Click here to read this article:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/an-archaeometric-investigation-into-the-former-cataract-house-hotel-via-elemental-analysis

Using pXRF Analysis and Automated SEM-EDS To Study Stonehenge's Altar Stone

A recent study used portable X-ray fluorescence analysis (pXRF) and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) to uncover new insights into Stonehenge’s Altar Stone.

Click here to read about this study:
https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/using-pxrf-analysis-and-automated-sem-eds-to-study-stonehenge-s-altar-stone

Recent Spectroscopic Studies in Archaeology

FT-IR as a Determinant of Age and Origin Location of Baltic Amber Beads in Aššur, Iraq

Fragments of amber beads examined in 2019 showed a Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrum consistent with Baltic amber, or succinite, suggesting the artifacts came from the Baltic or North Sea regions.

Click here to read about this study:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/ft-ir-as-a-determinant-of-age-and-origin-location-of-baltic-amber-beads-in-a-ur-iraq

Scientists use FT-IR, XRD, and GC to Analyze Pewsey Hoard Vessels

A team of scientists recently analyzed a collection of late Roman vessels discovered in the United Kingdom.

Click here to read about this study:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/scientists-use-ft-ir-xrd-and-gc-to-analyze-pewsey-hoard-vessels

Using Raman to Analyze Ancient Murals in Pompeii

Scientists used spectroscopic techniques to learn more about paintings in the blue room of Ariadne’s house.

Click here to read about this study:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/using-raman-to-analyze-ancient-murals-in-pompeii

Using ICP-MS to Study Mineral Composition in Ancient Copper Mines

A recent study used inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to study the copper isotopic composition of ores of specimens excavated at three Copper and Early Bronze Age mining centers.

Click here to read about this study:

https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/using-icp-ms-to-study-mineral-composition-in-ancient-copper-mines

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John Burgener | Photo Credit: © Will Wetzel
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Robert Jones speaks to Spectroscopy about his work at the CDC. | Photo Credit: © Will Wetzel
John Burgener of Burgener Research Inc.