Laser Ablation-ICP-MS in Archaeological Research

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These fifteen essays explore the archaeological applications of an exciting new field of research in materials science. Since the first archaeometric uses of inductively coupled plasma (ICP) in the early 1980s, most applications have required the processing of solid samples with heat and/or strong acids. This is time consuming, expensive, and sometimes dangerous.

An alternative sample-introduction technique, laser ablation (LA), became commercially available in the mid-1990s. The coupling of laser ablation with state-of-the-art inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) has resulted in the development of extremely sensitive microprobes capable of determining most elements of the periodic table. Already recognized as an invaluable technique in earth sciences, zoology, and botany, the use of LA-ICP-MS is being explored in archaeology.

Robert Speakman and Hector Neff bring together writings that specifically describe laser ablation, methods for data quantification, and applications. Originating in New World and Mediterranean sites, the materials whose analysis are described here include paints and glazes, ceramic pastes, lithics, human teeth and bone, and metals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826332547
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert J. Speakman is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Hector Neff is professor of anthropology at California State University, Long Beach.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The application of laser ablation-ICP-MS to the study of archaeological materials - an introduction 1
Ch. 2 Straight from the source : obsidian prismatic blades at El Ujuxte, Guatemala 17
Ch. 3 LA-ICP-MS as a supplement to abbreviated-INAA for obsidian artifacts from the Aztec-Tarascan frontier 29
Ch. 4 Laser ablation-ICP-MS chemical characterization of jade from a jade workshop in Cancuen, Guatemala 39
Ch. 5 Characterization of Montana cherts by LA-ICP-MS 59
Ch. 6 Searching for analytical alternatives to the characterization of copper minerals 77
Ch. 7 Laser ablation-ICP-MS of African glass trade beads 85
Ch. 8 Laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) as a bulk chemical characterization technique : comparison of LA-ICP-MS, digestion-ICP-MS, and INAA data on Virgin Branch Anasazi ceramics 95
Ch. 9 A provenance study of Hohokam schist-tempered pottery and raw materials from the middle Gila River Valley, Arizona : techniques and prospects 105
Ch. 10 Archaeological applications of tephra analysis by LA-ICP-MS 117
Ch. 11 Laser ablation-ICP-MS analysis of late Neolithic ceramic pigments from the Amuq Plain, Turkey 125
Ch. 12 A compositional analysis of Nasca pigments : implications for craft production on the pre-Hispanic south coast of Peru 139
Ch. 13 A preliminary analysis of pigments used in redware pottery production at Point of Pines, Arizona 155
Ch. 14 Chemical characterization of Mesa Verde and Mancos black-on-white pottery pigments by LA-ICP-MS 167
Ch. 15 Detecting provenance of African-origin individuals in the colonial cemetery of Campeche, Yucatan : a new approach using trace elements and LA-ICP-MS 187
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