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Provenance Study of Venezuelan Pre-Columbian Ceramics Employing Radioisotope X-Ray Fluorescence

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Radioisotope x-ray fluorescence analysis was performed to determine normalized elemental intensities for pre-Columbian sherds and roller stamps from different archaeological sites in the Middle Orinoco region of Venezuela. These normalized intensities were used to construct three-component (Triangle) graphs separating the sherds into three groups based on their known origin. The three-component graphs were: (Zn, Sr, Zr), (Rb, Sr, Zr), and (A, Sr, Zr), where A = Cu + Zn + Pb normalized intensities. The total precision was shown to be better than 5% absolute for all cases studied. It was concluded that two of the roller stamps found at one site probably manufactured in a different source area. This lends support to the notion that the roller stamps were a trade item in late pre-Columbian times (1000-1400 A.D.). The method applied in this study using a 109Cd (2mCi) source seems to be appropriate for provenance studies of archaeological ceramics where many samples are processed, because it has the inherent advantages of being simple, economical, and rapid.

Keywords: Analysis for pre-Columbian ceramics; Archaeology; X-ray fluorescence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 21287, Caracas 1020A, Venezuela 2: Departamento de Arqueología y Etnografía, Escuela de Antropología, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Apartado 54044, Caracas 1051A, Venezuela

Publication date: November 1, 1988

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