Compositional characterization of prehistoric ceramics: A new approach

Douglas J. Kennett, Sachiko Sakai, Hector Neff, Richard Gossett, Daniel O. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In this paper we present a promising new geochemical provenance technique that couples chemistry-based microwave digestion of archaeological ceramics with Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (MD-ICP-MS). MD-ICP-MS data for a standard reference material (SRM-679, brick clay) compare favourably with certified values, and data for prehistoric ceramics from the Virgin Branch Anasazi region of southern Nevada reproduce groups identified in an INAA study. We argue that MD-ICP-MS provides a cost-effective and readily available approach for determining the provenance of archaeological ceramics. As the use of nuclear reactors for archaeological research purpose becomes more tenous, MD-ICP-MS may also provide a viable alternative for bulk analysis of prehistoric ceramics in the long-term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-455
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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