Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

https://link.springer.com/journal/12520

List of Papers (Total 125)

Mineralogical and geochemical characterization of high-medieval lead–silver smelting slags from Wiesloch near Heidelberg (Germany)—an approach to process reconstruction

Here, we present detailed electron microprobe analyses and age data of high-medieval lead–silver smelting slags. The mineral composition data provide a database of all silicate and oxide phases in the slag. Bulk chemistry as well as mineral composition is used to reconstruct liquidus, solidus, and viscosity of the slag melt. By calculating the mass balance of the smelting process...

The use of reflectance values for the interpretation of natural and anthropogenic charcoal assemblages

Charcoal assemblages occur in both natural and archaeological settings. Cell wall reflectance values of charcoal in polished blocks under oil provide a proxy for temperature of formation. This paper aims to (1) determine whether wildfire charcoals and anthropological charcoals from various pyrotechnical activities can be distinguished using reflectance data and (2) establish if...

Pigments, dyes, and black enamel—the colorants of reverse paintings on glass

Nondestructive analyses of medieval reverse paintings on glass revealed the same dyes and pigments customarily used in panel paintings. However, there is one exception: the black colorant is not a carbon-based pigment, but black enamel. In this respect, the stylistic as well as the technical influence of stained glass artwork can clearly be seen on reverse paintings on glass...

Metallurgy and specialisation in Prepalatial Mesara, Crete

The purpose of this paper is to examine the technological knowledge and the technological level of copper metallurgy in the Mesara plain in Crete, during the Prepalatial period. In order to investigate this issue, objects from several (12) sites in the area were chosen for examination. In this way, the technological level of the area and each site could be safely ascertained...

Analyzing and dating the structure of the Phaistos Disk

This paper offers an analysis and dating of the structure of the “Phaistos Disk”, made from clay, imprinted with undeciphered symbols, grouped in roughly 30 boxes per disk side, and found in the ruins of the Phaistos Palace on the Greek Island of Crete by Luigi Pernier in 1908. The author suggests that the disk side A containing a petal in the center box shows astronomical...

Copper supply during the Final Neolithic at the Saint-Blaise/Bains des Dames site (Neuchâtel, Switzerland)

The Saint-Blaise/Bains des Dames stratified site in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, contains several occupations that span the Late through Final Neolithic, including the Horgen, Lüscherz, and Auvernier-Cordé periods. As part of a study on prehistoric metallurgy in western Switzerland, we compare the lead isotope ratios (multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer) and...

New insights into the ancient silver production of the Wallis area, Switzerland

This paper discusses the results of a study of the exploitation history of the metallogenic region of the Wallis, Switzerland. Periods of exploitation in this mining district are determined by comparisons of the lead isotope fingerprint of the mines with those of dated artefacts presumed to have a local origin based on the style of craftsmanship. The approach is based on the...

Tracing Roman lead sources using lead isotope analyses in conjunction with archaeological and epigraphic evidence—a case study from Augustan/Tiberian Germania

In antiquity, lead played an important role both for the military and general public. Building construction, in particular, consumed large amounts of this metal. Nevertheless, the supply sources for lead during the Roman Imperial period have not been satisfactorily accounted for. The following paper aims to clarify the provenance of lead artefacts from Roman military fortresses...

Combined Pb–Sr isotopic analysis in provenancing late Roman iron raw materials in the territory of Sagalassos (SW Turkey)

In early Roman times, iron was likely supplied to the city of Sagalassos through the smelting of close-by hematite ores. In the early Byzantine period, magnetite–titanite placer sands in some instances could have been exploited for its iron. For the intermediate late Roman period, however, the source of the locally used iron was unknown. Pb and Sr isotopic analyses of iron ores...

Lead isotopic measurements in archeological objects

Pb isotopic analyses on metal artifacts help constrain their provenance. Useful and reliable data require analytical protocols that ensure accuracy and monitor precision. The interpretation can sometimes be ambiguous because natural ore deposits frequently have overlapping Pb isotopic compositions. In most cases, however, provenances can be reliably narrowed down. For the Alpine...

Metal provenancing using isotopes and the Oxford archaeological lead isotope database (OXALID)

This paper reviews the research into the methodology of lead isotope provenance studies carried out at the University of Oxford between 1975 and 2002, at first in the Department of Geology (Geological Age and Isotope Research Laboratory), later in the Isotrace Laboratory based in the Department of Nuclear Physics, and eventually part of the Research Laboratory of Archaeology and...

The colour of the facades in Siena’s historical centre: I. Glazings (calcium oxalate films s.s.) and other finishes on the stone materials of the Cathedral’s main facade

This paper focuses on the long-debated topic of the so-called calcium oxalate films: their origin and meaning but also their age and original appearance. The restoration of the main facade of the Siena Cathedral provided a unique opportunity to this end, thanks to the possibility of an extensive and detailed sampling and (as rarely happens) a sufficiently accurate historical...

Bedding, hearths, and site maintenance in the Middle Stone Age of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Micromorphological analysis of sediments from the Middle Stone Age site of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, provides a high-resolution sequence and evidence of site formation processes of predominantly anthropogenic deposits. This methodology allows for a detailed interpretation of individual anthropogenic activities, including the construction of hearths and bedding and...

Qadhat—a comparative study of ancient and new lime mortar from the Marib province/Yemen

Qadhat is the name for a lime mortar in Southern Arabia. Its usage has a long tradition. This work describes physical and mineralogical properties of ancient, historical and new samples, which seem to have been produced the same way. XRD, thin sections and SEM analyses show the similarity of the material. It consists of aggregates of volcanic material that are rich in volcanic...

Common ware production at Thamusida: dating and characterisation of Roman and Islamic pottery

Twenty-one samples of likely Roman, likely Islamic and unknown common ware from the archaeological site of Thamusida (Rabat, Morocco) were analysed in order to anchor selected types of pottery to a limited time span and, possibly, to a production area and technology. Analytical techniques were thermoluminescence, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray...

Archaeological collagen: Why worry about collagen diagenesis?

DNA appears to decay by random chain scission resulting in a predictable range of fragment lengths. Collagen decay has also been modelled in this same way, although it has become increasingly evident that collagen decay does not follow this same pattern. Radiocarbon and stable isotope analysis now use ultra-filtration to isolate large fragments (>30% of original polymer length...

Experimental chemical degradation compared to natural diagenetic alteration of collagen: implications for collagen quality indicators for stable isotope analysis

Stable isotopic ratios from archaeological bone collagen are valid palaeodietary indicators, but depend on sufficiently well preserved molecules and several collagen quality criteria have to be fulfilled (mostly collagen wt%, C%; N%, C/N molar ratio). For a reassessment of these quality criteria, and a better understanding of the chemical degradation of bone collagen...

Establishing collagen quality criteria for sulphur isotope analysis of archaeological bone collagen

Sulphur isotope measurements of bone collagen from archaeological sites are beginning to be applied more often, yet there are no clear criteria to assess the quality of the collagen and therefore the validity of the sulphur isotope values. We provide elemental data from different methods (DNA sequences, amino acid sequences and mass spectrometric measurements) which are used to...

Chemical composition and colouring agents of Roman mosaic and millefiori glass, studied by electron microprobe analysis and Raman microspectroscopy

About 100 fragments of Roman mosaic and millefiori glass were stylistically attributed to a Hellenistic type, a Ptolemaic and Romano-Egyptian period type and an early imperial period type. Twelve representative fragments were studied by electron microprobe analysis and Raman microspectroscopy. Eleven of them display a Na-pronounced recipe with low K, Mg and P contents, typical...

Hatching seeds before they’re counted

Like other analytic aspects of archaeology, archaeobotany has been growing progressively more quantitative in the past few decades. This may be a sign of the proliferation of increasingly mature and sophisticated methodologies for analyzing botanical data, but associated with the sophistication of quantitative methods is their inherent opacity: the value and applicability of...