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The Archaeoscience Laboratory was designed to curate non-artifactual materials, mostly geological in nature, that were collected or studied by Museum curators and outside researchers. The specimens are generally from known sources of raw materials that can be used with a petrographic microscope to match sources with the minerals in artifacts, especially ceramics. They form the basis for pioneering and important research employing physical and chemical analyses, such as neutron activation analysis, to determine the geopolitical sources of raw material for stone, mineral, metal, and ceramic artifacts from the areas of the world represented in the Museum’s collections. At the present time, there are two general categories of materials in this collection.
A. An extensive collection of obsidian, chert, flint, magnetite, and hematite used in neutron activation analysis. This includes some artifacts or debitage as well as quarry samples from numerous locations in North America, especially Mexico, and the Near East, especially Turkey.
B. Numerous samples of sediments and rocks from archeological sites. Some are bulk samples; others have been processed (sieved, size-sorted). Most of these samples come from Near Eastern and Greek sites, studied by Dr. Bill Farrand. Others are from France, Spain, Germany, and Algeria, as well as a few from North America.