A New Application of Fiber-Optic Reflection Spectroscopy (FORS): Characterization of Low-Temperature Alteration of Chlorite Schist and Implications for Understanding Ancient Stone Cooking Vessels

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Abstract:

Bulk thermal alterations to chlorite schist occurring at temperatures above 450 ° C are traditionally studied using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, or thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), but lower temperature changes that lead to structural and chemical alteration, including changes in oxidation state that are not followed by a crystalline modification, are not detectable using these techniques. In this paper we present the results of the first study to examine the application of fiber-optic reflection spectroscopy (FORS) for the detection and quantification of low-temperature thermal alterations in chlorite schist. Such changes have been observed during research on the thermal behavior of medieval (12th–13th centuries AD) chlorite cooking pots from the archaeological site of Merv, Turkmenistan. FORS was used to investigate these changes, testing the archaeological samples against a model data set of experimental reference specimens. The results demonstrate the potential of FORS for tracking low-temperature thermal alterations and offer the opportunity to examine temperatures attained by ancient chlorite vessels during their past use in cooking activities.

Keywords: ARCHAEOLOGY; CHLORITE; COOKING; FIBER-OPTIC REFLECTION SPECTROSCOPY; FORS; FOURIER TRANSFORM INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY; FT-IR SPECTROSCOPY; HERITAGE CONSERVATION; TGA; THERMOGRAVIMETRIC ANALYSIS; X-RAY DIFFRACTION; XRD

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1366/10-05996

Affiliations: 1: Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK; Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel. rstacey@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk 2: Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK 3: Department of Middle East, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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