Modern laboratory micro X-ray Fluorescence (μXRF) instruments allow the acquisition of high quality 2D elemental maps. This type of spatially resolved elemental composition data is a great asset for the investigation of heterogeneous materials, such as ceramic sherds. In the current work μXRF mapping is investigated as a valid, fast and inexpensive alternative to other elemental mapping techniques (ex. SEM-EDX) for the study of ancient ceramics.

Firstly, we evaluate the effects of X-ray penetration depth on the resulting maps; we investigate the effect of invisible (bulk) inclusions on the surface map and determine which elements are less affected. Moreover, we investigate the differences in matrix effects for three sample states: raw clay powder pellets, fired clay powder pellets and fired clay polished briquettes. 23 custom reference materials were created specifically to bracket ancient ceramic elemental compositions. These materials were analyzed by μXRF in all three aforementioned states in order to create different matrix matched calibration protocols. Finally, a proposed application is presented in the form of a case study. 72 sherds from two Late Bronze Age sites in Cyprus were selected in order to study differences in raw material procurement strategies. Polished surfaces of the sherds were mapped in their entirety, producing elemental maps of the same scale as the petrographic fabrics previously used to describe the assemblage. Phase analysis was conducted to extract the spectra of regions with similar elemental composition (clay matrix, different mineral/lithic inclusions). The deconvoluted elemental peak intensities from the clay matrix spectra were used for Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA). This approach ensures that the emerging groups are unaffected by high percentages of inclusions/temper (ex. [1]) and each one represents a different clay type. The μXRF results helped distinguish and characterize a larger variety of raw materials and re-evaluate the fabrics that had emerged through petrography.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
EventEuropean Conference on X-Ray Spectrometry 2016 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 19 Jun 201624 Jun 2016


ConferenceEuropean Conference on X-Ray Spectrometry 2016
Abbreviated titleEXRS2016
Internet address


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