Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy and its research applications to Northern European bog bodies
by Granite, Guinevere Elizabeth, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2012, 407; 3516400
Abstract (Summary)

To expand the understanding of Northern European bog environmental chemistry and its diagenetic effects on the bones of human remains interred within them, also known as bog bodies, this dissertation focuses on the application of portable X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Spectroscopy to both the skeletal remains and the surrounding burial environment of thirteen bog bodies; twelve from raised bogs, and one from a fen bog. This non-destructive testing method can offer objective, on-site information that provides environmental understanding of bog body burial sites. Portable XRF Spectroscopy can help to determine the difference between the diagenetic effects of a raised bog compared to a fen bog, and the geographic origin and/or disparity in environmental habitation of bog bodies early and late in life. In addition, one can use portable XRF Spectroscopy to identify whether housing curators and staff applied post-discovery preservation procedures to bog bodies.

Currently, Strontium (Sr) is the most reliable element of interest in geographic origin and migration research. Sr acts like Calcium (Ca), incorporating preferentially into bone and tooth enamel at sites of increased osteogenesis. Comparing Sr concentrations from the bones and teeth could greatly assist in determining whether the bog body migrated between infancy and death, even possibly his/her birthplace. Therefore, Sr elemental concentrations were measured using a portable XRF Innov-X Alpha Series spectrometer for the bog body bone and teeth, as well as the soil from the bog discovery sites. To assess potential diagenetic effects of the bog in the form of elemental leaching and incorporation, elemental measurements were also taken from the bone, teeth, and soil for the following elements: Bromine (Br), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni), Lead (Pb), Rubidium (Rb), Zinc (Zn), and Zirconium (Zr). These elements are also measured to assess post-discovery preservation procedures applied to the bog bodies.

To enable the most accurate value ranges of elemental concentrations as measured in parts per million (ppm), each body was scanned repeatedly at various pre-determined osteological landmarks. The skeletal areas scanned included any present/visible dentition, as well as bone regions found within the crania and postcrania. Corings from discovery sites were measured at 10 cm increments to provide elemental concentrations at different depths within the soil. This provided an elemental concentration range for each element of interest that could be easily compared to the elemental concentration range collected from the bog bodies. If soil samples could not be taken directly from the discovery sites, geochemical soil data standards collected by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources were alternatively used.

Additionally, skeletal abnormalities discovered in the Windeby Child were compared to areas of known bog compression on other bog bodies studied to determine whether the anomalies present in the child were pseudopathological or pathological in nature. Several theories on the possible causes of these skeletal abnormalities are postulated in this paper. Portable XRF spectroscopy helps to provide information regarding the interaction between the bog environment and the remains of bog bodies, as well as to identify post-discovery preservative treatment implemented on the bodies during the conservation process. However, Sr bone and tooth analysis is not applicable to geographic origin and migration studies because of the diagenetic effects of the bog.

Portable XRF elemental measurements for Br, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Pb, Rb, Zn, and Zr suggest elemental incorporation occurred in both the fen and raised bog bodies, except for Zn in some of the raised bog bodies and the fen bog body. Since Sr acts like Ca in bone, Sr was leached from the raised bog bodies during the decalcification process, and incorporated in the fen bog body during fossilization. It is possible that incorporation also occurred in the raised bog bodies because of free Sr ionic exchange that created an equilibrium between the Sr bog levels and its associated bog body, resulting in similar Sr concentrations. The wooden coffin containing the remains of Peiting Woman may have impeded the ability for both leaching and free Sr ionic exchange to occur. This could explain the similar Sr values between her teeth and bone, and their difference from the surrounding bog levels.

Bernuthsfeld Man, J├╝hrdenerfeld Man, Kayhausen Boy, Moora Girl, Peiting Woman, Roter Franz, and the Windeby Child all demonstrate post-discovery preservative implementation. Exorbitantly high elemental values were found at specific sites on each of the following bodies: Bernuthsfeld Man, J├╝hrdenerfeld Man, Peiting Woman, Roter Franz, and the Windeby Child. Such values suggest that post-discovery elemental incorporation occurred. Post-discovery elemental leaching occurred in Kayhausen Boy and specific bones of Moora Girl due to their submerged preservative treatment in ethylene glycol for Kayhausen Boy and distilled water for specific bones of Moora Girl. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sirianni, Joyce
Commitee: Biehl, Peter, Duggleby, Christine
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Physical anthropology, Forensic anthropology
Keywords: Bog bodies, Portable XRF spectroscopy
Publication Number: 3516400
ISBN: 9781267457172
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