Elemental Analysis of Ceramics with the Bruker Tracer XRF Analyzer

The Bruker TRACER 5 Series, the state-of-the-art analyzer for elemental analysis of archaeological objects, has multiple applications in the analysis of clay and ceramic objects. With the capability to collect qualitative, semi-quantitative, and—in some cases—quantitative elemental composition data from clay and ceramic objects, the TRACER 5 series can provide a wealth of information to supplement the archaeologist’s knowledge of his or her site’s ceramic objects. Contact us with any questions you may have!

The TRACER 5 series can be used to research provenience and supplement existing archaeological knowledge pertaining to the geographic/geologic origins of ceramic objects. For example, one archaeological site may have ceramic vessels from a variety of different origins. A site that contains many shards from oil jars—or amphorae—may contain samples the provenience of which can be traced to a radius of hundreds of miles. In certain cases, the only way to answer these interesting and important questions about provenience is through chemical or archaeometric analysis. A semi-quantitative spectral analysis method can be applied to TRACER 5 data in order to compare concentrations of certain elements whose comparative ratios are distinct enough to separate ceramic samples by their clay source. This information can supplement existing archaeological knowledge to help archaeologists learn more about ancient trade routes, cultural exchange, and commerce. Such information can also inform archaeologists of migration patterns of ancient peoples, as well as answer important questions about manufacturing practices.

TRACER 5i dig site

Methodology and XRF Ceramics Analysis

Not only is the TRACER 5 equipped with software protocols to handle semi-quantitative comparison of elemental ratios for the purpose of grouping ceramics by source, but Bruker’s specialized staff has all the knowledge to help you develop your analysis and data processing methodology in repeatable, proven ways consistent with the scientific method. Furthermore, similar methods and data analysis protocols for provenience studies and grouping by geologic source are available for a large variety of other materials such as clay, basalt, obsidian, jade, and many other lithic materials.

Contact us today, or sign up for one of our world famous workshops in XRF analysis of non-uniform samples such as those commonly found in the archaeological field and the conservation lab.

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