J.IIC-CG VOLUME 3 (1978)

Some Aspects of the Analysis of Ancient Artifacts by Neutron Activation

R.G.V. Hancock

For a great many years, archaeologists have been recovering ancient artifacts made from pottery, obsidian, chert and metals. In many cases, the origin of the artefacts can be deduced only from chemical and physical analyses of the recovered materials. In their quest to unravel some historical reality from these surviving artifacts, researchers have employed a number of very powerful techniques. One such technique is instrumental neutron activation analysis, which has been applied quite successfully to artifact analysis, with its greatest success to date being pottery analysis. This paper outlines some of the advantages and disadvantages of instrumental neutron activation analysis with a low neutron flux SLOWPOKE nuclear reactor. The determinable number of elements and the accuracy and precision of analytical measurements are discussed, as is the negative correlation of calcium with all the other elements in pottery.

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