Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Journeys of our ancestors: Conservation science approaches to the analysis of cultural material
by O'Grady, Caitlin Rose, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 407; 3387451
Abstract (Summary)

The application and use of non-destructive portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis is a critical tool in the preservation and interpretation of cultural material. Portable XRF instrumentation produce elemental compositional data that is used to reconstruct current artifact composition, which can be related to materials and methods of manufacture, technological practice, as well as object condition and presence of corrosion surfaces. Portable XRF analysis is used to assess a variety of material classes utilized in artifact manufacture. The dissertation research is based on a series of three case studies that represent typical groups of material culture commonly encountered in conservation and conservation science research.

Conservators and conservation scientists frequently undertake analysis and interpretation of disparate groups of materials. Often, these objects are tied together by research questions or themes directed by outside influences including preservation issues requiring action; curatorial research interests; museum exhibition programs; as well as many other cultural heritage stakeholders. To this end, both non-destructive and destructive tools that provide measurements of interest play critical roles in analysis. The case studies have been designed to answer common compositional questions relating to (a) bulk analysis of Chinese coins, (b) characterization of Southwestern ceramic colorants, and, (c) chemical examination of post-depositional manganese dioxide accretions occurring on archaeological ceramic materials. They evaluate the value of data produced using effectiveness of non-destructive portable XRF analysis for the interpretation of archaeological materials. The case studies provide a template for the development of conservation science research, predicated on object preservation, which produce meaningful data for the interpretation and conservation of the analyzed archaeological artifacts. Portable XRF provides useful data that is used to successfully interpret archaeological materials through (a) classification of metal alloys that can be related to published coin data, (b) identification of ceramic colorants and production technologies, and, (c) characterization of post-depositional product composition when used with established visual typologies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Odegaard, Nancy
Commitee: Adams, E. Charles, Potter, Barrett G., Seraphin, Supapan
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Materials Science & Engineering
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Materials science
Keywords: Conservation science, Nondestructive evaulation, Portable x-ray fluorescence
Publication Number: 3387451
ISBN: 978-1-109-53499-3
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