Presentation on theme: "Scientific Tools for Probing the Past Sven Isaksson Archaeological Research Laboratory Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies Stockholm University."— Presentation transcript:
Scientific Tools for Probing the Past Sven Isaksson Archaeological Research Laboratory Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies Stockholm University
Archaeology and Chemistry Why a little chemistry is useful to archaeologists: The archaeological sources are material remains – chemistry is the study of matter and its change Material remains are affected by the ravages of time – what is left and how it is preserved Man has always made use of matter and changed it; Man – the Chemist
History C. 1800, first chemical analyses 1896, first physical analyses 1945 New techniques in chemistry, physics and biology 1949, 14 C-dating 1970 Increased application in archaeology 1985 Break-through in organic analyses
Established in 1976 Professorship in 1986, first as an adjoining position but later as a regular chair, in laboratory archaeology (swe: laborativ arkeologi) Since 2005 part of the newly created Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies Archaeological Research Laboratory
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies Archaeology Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory Classical StudiesNumismatic Research Group Archaeological Research Laboratory
Scientific tools are used to probe the archaeological material for more data Archaeology!Not Archaeology? Not science? Science!
The Fate of Finds Excavation Semi-stable equilibriums are broken, collection, registration Recording Cleaning, visual characterization Conservation Halt decomposition, extract information -excavation on microscopic level Storage Keep, preserve, display Scientific analyses? Excavations on molecular or atomic level
Contamination during excavation Hawaiian Tropic (coconut oil, UV- block).
Contamination during recording Day Cream (palm- tree oil etc)
Contamination during conservation Paraffin From Aveling 1998
Keeping in museums ExcavatedaDNA mtDNAHTG10HTG8 Late 1800-tal +-- Late 1900-tal +++ From Götherström 2001 Ancient horse DNA from Birka Alkanoic acids in Norwegian organic residues Is organic residues better off in the ground than in the museum?!
Analytical techniques Prospecting Dating Characterization
Biological origin Chemical analyses of: Fats/Oils Waxes Pitches Tars Leather Textile Food Morphological analyses: Seeds Leather Fur Textile Bone Short-chain fatty acids Long-chain fatty acids and MAG Long-chain ketones and DAG Sterols Triacylglycerols (TAG) IR-spectra of organic residues Gas chromatogram of lipid residues Scanning Electron Micrographs of cells from barley and pea in prehistoric food residue
(Stjerna 1997) Technology Just because its green doesn't mean its bronze
Technology Symbols or Cymbals: the Fröslunda shields From a sulfide ore - late Bronze Age Hammered and annealed – not suitable as cymbals Flattening of slag inclusions – hammered from a piece 15 cm in diameter
Man DietC- and N-isotopes, trace elements Breast-feedingN-isotopes Sex determinationOsteology, aDNA KinshipaDNA MigrationaDNA, S- and O- isotopes, trace elements
Living conditions and climate DiseaseOsteology, aDNA ClimateO-isotopes Vegetation, regionalPollen analysis Vegetation, localPlant macro fossils, organic geochemistry
aDNA laboratory for extraction and PCR, post-PCR laboratory in separate building Atomic Absorption Spectrophoto- meter for trace metal element analyses of soil, bone and artefacts Field-archaeology equipment, incl. sampling probes, field spectrophotometer, metal detector, GPS, total station, photo-tower for analogue or digital cameras Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry for analyses of organic residues and pigments Facilities Freezer-room for the storage of very large samples, e.g. whole graves Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry for organic residue analyses GIS computer systems for spatial analyses Mass Spectrometry for isotope (C, N, S, O) analyses primarily of bone collagen Microscopes and sample preparation equipment for analyses of archaeo-botanical materials, textiles, etc
Slingram, Ground-Penetrating Radar and Magnetometer for archaeological prospecting Spectrophotometers for wet- chemical analyses (e.g. phosphates) Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry for microstructure and elemental analyses X-Ray Diffraction for the analysis of minerals, bones and pigments Facilities Microscopes and sample preparation equipment for microstructure analyses of metals and ceramics Microwave Accelerated Reaction System for rapid sample preparation, i.e. extracting, digesting, dissolving, hydrolysing or drying organic or inorganic materials Optical 3D-scanner for both high- resolution surface analyses of artefacts and for large-scale 3D documentation Preparation and conservation laboratory primarily for metal artefacts
Research programs Svealand in the Vendel and Viking Period (finished) Forts and Fortifications in the Mälaren Region AD 400- 1100 (finished) Us and Them – Cultural identity in the Middle Neolithic Bread for the dead, bread for the living… Cereal-based food in the Late Iron Age By House and Hearth – The chemistry of culture layers as a document of the subsistence of prehistoric man Tracing Ancient Vegetable Food – Chemotaxonomy of plant lipid residues Gender and Diet in the Neolithic