Archaeology / Museums

Application Notes

  • Mus01 (XGT11) : Non-destructive analysis of museum and archaeological objects.
  • Gem01 (XGT08) : Micro-XRF reveals ruby structure and composition.
  • Gem02 (XGT09) : XRF micro-analysis of gemstone inclusions.

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Articles

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Museum curators and archaeologists used analytical science to provide important information on their artefacts and objects. For example, scientific techniques will shed light on specific materials used (such as coatings, paints and pigments), provenance and authenticity, corrosion products and their cause, and generally assist in the day to day care of the many priceless historical objects to be found in museums and archaeological sites around the world.

One of the key requirements when analysing archaeological/museum objects is that the technique is non-destructive. With the XGT-7000’s Partial Vacuum Mode it is possible to analyse any object without the need to subject it to potentially damaging full vacuum conditions. Thus it is possible to analyse individual features on an object for their elemental composition, and even create XRF images which can then be matched to optical micrographs.

Key areas which benefit from micro-XRF include:

  • Metals and alloys
  • Paints, inks and pigments
  • Gemstones
  • Corrosion products
  • Internal analysis
  • Authenticity

Example

Archeology

Micro-XRF imaging of an ancient Nepalese manuscript allows the pigments to be identified. These include vermilion (HgS), diachlon (Pb3O4), copper carbonate and gold leaf. The penetrating nature of X-rays allows features not visible by eye to be studied. On this manuscript there is a base layer of chrome yellow (PbCrO4), on top of which the other pigments have been layered.