Handheld LIBS for Field Archaeology: Characterization of Roman Wall Mortars and Etruscan Ceramics

June 21, 2023

June 13, 2023

Publication: Mary Kate Donais, Luke Douglass, William H. Ramundt, Claudio Bizzarri, and David B. George. “Handheld Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy for Field Archaeology: Characterization of Roman Wall Mortars and Etruscan Ceramics,” Applied Spectroscopy Practica 2023, 1

“The goals of the two studies were threefold: (i) evaluate the practical utility of handheld LIBS for field archaeology; (ii) analyze the LIBS data using multivariate statistics to determine possible associations or groupings among samples to draw conclusions regarding the archaeology; and(iii) compare the conclusions from the LIBS work to those from previously reported studies.”

Abstract: Handheld laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) was applied to two studies of archaeological material at excavation sites in the Orvieto (Umbria), Italy geographic region. The short analysis times and wide range of detectable elements, covering both metals and nonmetals, achievable via LIBS played a central role in successfully exploring research questions specific to the analyzed artifacts. For one study, associations among Roman terraced walls at the Coriglia excavation site were established through comparisons among lime mortar elemental compositions measured in situ. New conclusions regarding construction phases were achieved, and agreement between handheld LIBS and handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF)spectrometry results was established. Secondly, Etruscan bucchero pottery was examined to explore relationships among fabric color (gray and black),excavation site (Cavità 254 and Crocifisso del Tufo), and elemental composition. Differences were found and are discussed as they relate to ceramic production and object purpose. Principal component analysis was applied for data analysis in both studies.

Access to publication: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/27551857231175847

About this journal: Applied Spectroscopy Practica, published by the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, is an international peer-reviewed, open-access journal, for the publication of practical applications of a previously or currently developed field or theory.

The authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to SciAps Inc. for the generous lending of the handheld LIBS to conduct this work and to Brendan Connors for his time and guidance in using the instrument.

Z-903 Analyzer

Like its predecessor but with updated form and software, SciAps Z-903 handheld analyzer measures every element in the periodic table of the elements – from H to U. The extended spectrometer range from 190 nm out to950 nm, allows measurement of longer wavelength emission lines from elements like H, F, N, O, Br, Cl, Rb, Cs and S to be measured. Other benefits include amore sensitive line for lithium near 675 nm to achieve limits of detection in the 2-5 ppm range and potassium without the interference of heavy iron. TheZ-903 is most widely used for mineral exploration, forensics, authentication, and archeology due to the wide elemental range.

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