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Pottery Analysis - Technological Analyses

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Positive Number to Propaganda - World War IiPottery Analysis - Pottery Analysis, Technological Analyses, Typological Analysis And Other Dating Techniques

Technological analyses

In one type of technological analysis, the archeologist attempts to understand the physical and mechanical properties of the ceramic material. Experiments may be designed to gather information about thermal shock, tensile strength, and crack propagation in ceramic vessels. In addition, the impact of any surface treatments on a pot's function may be assessed.

In a second type of technological analysis, the types of clay and tempering materials are analyzed to determine the origins of the materials used in the pot's construction. Mineral composition may be determined by petrographic analysis or x-ray diffraction. Petrographic analysis employs a microscope and polarized light to identify the mineral used as temper, based on the temper's optical and morphological characteristics. In x-ray diffraction, the specimen is bombarded with electrons to obtain an x-ray diffraction pattern characteristic of the minerals present in the object. At an elemental level, clays can be analyzed by such techniques as optical emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence, neutron activation, proton-induced x-ray emission, microprobe analysis, and atomic absorption spectroscopy. Each of these methods evaluates the wavelength of energy either emitted or absorbed when the electrons, protons, or neutrons present in the clay of the vessel are disturbed by a source of radiation. These indicate the chemical elements present in the sample.

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