Improvement of the PGAA analytical library

Applications of a new non-destructive geochemical method (PGAA) in archaeometry

Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, OTKA (2006-2009)

Archaeometry, which applies modern analytics in archaeology, is a relatively young discipline. Knowledge of the chemical composition informs the archaeologists about the provenance, the raw material sources, etc. The routine methods (XRF, NAA, and ICP-MS) are more or less destructive which inhibits the investigation of valuable objects. On the contrary, Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA) is non-destructive. It is applicable for quantitative measurement of major and trace components. Since 1997 we developed the routine for PGAA of metal-, stone-, glass- and pottery objects. In this project we plan to perform a comparative study of stone- and pottery archaeological objects. The basic rock types show characteristic composition, and some important trace elements (B, Sm, Eu, Gd, Nd) serve as fingerprints of the geological source.

The main goal is to identify raw material source of some remarkable archaeological treasure in the Carpatian region. The material to be investigated: (1) Volcanic origin (andesite, basalt, obsidian) chipped- and polished stone tools, (2) pottery from the Prehistoric Collection of the Hungarian National Museum. Geological reference samples will be chosen from the Comparative Raw Material Collection of the Museum (Lithoteca), and from field surveys. Our goal is to establish and develop archaeometrical databases.

The principal method is PGAA, but we plan complementary and comparative geochemical and mineralogical investigations (EPMA, XRF, NAA). The results can be utilized in basic geochemistry research and also in development of the PGAA database.
The project has strong relations with several international co-operations.