Exploring the Microscale: Advances and Novel Applications of Microscopy for Archaeological Materials

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Archaeologists employ a wide range of microscopy techniques to understand subtle traces of past behaviors in the archaeological record. This session explores innovative methods of analyzing archaeological traces at the microscale, whether it is through new developments in microscopy or novel applications of established techniques. These methods are not limited to a specific type of material culture and thus this session explores microscopy for the study of lithics, bones, metals, residues, and other materials. Furthermore, analytical techniques using microscopy draw on numerous disciplines including physics, engineering, and chemistry, encompassing a wide range of techniques to visualize and record microscopic traces. By bringing together research on different materials with diverse approaches, this session aims to develop new collaborations to explore archaeological materials at the microscale. Reaching out beyond the archaeological realm into interdisciplinary pursuits, we gain new insights into the past.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Blind-Testing, Post-Depositional Damage, and Lithic Microwear: Results of Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses Using Optical Microscopy and Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only W. James Stemp. Adrian A. Evans.

    The increasing adoption of approaches to lithic microwear analysis based on metrology and tribology by archaeologists has provided opportunities to revisit unresolved issues associated with microwear method, such as wear formation processes, the exclusivity of polishes derived from different worked materials, and, as presented in this paper, post-depositional damage and the accuracy and reliability of microwear analysis. In this paper, we discuss the results of blind-tests performed on chipped...

  • Deciphering Bone Tool Production and Use: A Comparative Assessment of Quantitative Approaches to Microwear Analysis (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Gleason. Adam Watson.

    Recent research in the pre-Columbian Pueblo Southwest has demonstrated the importance of understanding trends in bone industries that closely track other, related economic sectors such as perishable craft production. A vital next step in this line of inquiry is the identification the specific types of production activities in which bone tools are employed and variation across time and space. As illustrated by the results of this pilot study, texture analysis methods, developed within the...

  • Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (DMTA): Paleodietary and Paleoecological Aspects (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Miriam Belmaker.

    Microwear is based on the correlation between function, form, and behavior. 3D Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (3D-DMTA) combines the use of high-resolution white light scanning confocal microscope (Sensofar) with the analysis of the data using scale-sensitive fractal analysis (Sfrax, Surfract, www.surfract.com) for a new analytical tool to study dental microwear texture patterns. This method allows for statistical characterization of dental microwear features and resulted in the reduction of...

  • Explorations in LEXT Image and Profile Capture for Dental Enamel Surface Morphology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julia Gamble. Brooke Milne.

    The field of bioarchaeology is leading to significant advances in our understanding of the lives of past populations. A particular area of interest in this field lies in the consideration of the early life determinants of later life conditions. The consideration of non-specific skeletal stress markers has been at the forefront of this research. Dental enamel grows incrementally, and because it does not remodel once formed, a permanent record of growth disruption is preserved. Traditionally,...

  • Microscopic Mapping of Technological Choice: The Use of SEM-EDS with QEMSCAN on Ceramic Materials (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carl Knappett. Jill Hilditch. Duncan Pirrie.

    As instrumentation and software packages become increasingly sophisticated, the microscopic world of material culture comes ever more clearly into focus. In doing so, however, we run the risk of privileging the mineral and the elemental above the human, those complex makers and users of ancient artefacts. It would seem, then, that the importance of bridging analytical scales remains as pertinent now as when David Peacock first critiqued the use of mineralogical and chemical techniques for...

  • Microwear and the Resolution of Post-Depositional Modification of Danish Underwater Mesolithic Deposits (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Randolph Donahue. Daniela Burroni. Anders Fischer.

    It has been shown that the amount of rounding of a dorsal ridge of an unused flake is a good proxy measure for the amount of post-depositional modification by sediment movement. The technique has been applied often by the Lithic Microwear Research Laboratory to assess the suitability of an assemblage for study of tool use. Here, we report on the application of the technique to a unique problem. Orehoved is a port located in southern Denmark. The repositioning of a bridge carrying traffic between...

  • Non-Destructive, In Situ Lithic Residue Analysis via FTIR Microspectroscopy: First Results (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gilliane Monnier. Kele Missal. Ellery Frahm.

    Lithic residue analysis is undergoing a methodological shift as analysts introduce new methods designed to improve the objectivity of residue identifications. Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy has been shown to have tremendous potential in this regard. This method is nondestructive, can provide precise identifications of molecular compounds and minerals, and can be carried out in situ – directly on the residues - without removing them from the stone tools. However, the optical...

  • Obsidian Hydration Dating Using SIMS and the LEXT Laser-Microscope (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mostafa Fayek. Brooke Milne. Ryan Sharpe. Rachel ten Bruggencate. Lawrence Anovitz.

    Obsidian hydration dating (OHD) is based on the premise that when an obsidian artifact is manufactured, the fresh surface exposed immediately begins to hydrate. A state-of-the-art obsidian hydration dating technique utilizes secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to measure H diffusion profiles in obsidian artifacts and the depths of the resulting sputter pits by a stylus-type profilometer. The pit depths are matched with the SIMS H diffusion profiles, which are compared to diffusion profiles of...

  • Replicating Surface Texture: Testing the Accuracy of Moulding Materials with Confocal Microscopy (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Danielle Macdonald. Adrian Evans. Robert Harman.

    The use of surface metrology microscopes and analytical processes is proliferating for the analysis of archaeology materials. Data collected from these microscopes allows for reliable and reproducible measurements of surface texture. However, archaeological materials provide some unique challenges for microscopic analysis; at times objects cannot be directly examined, whether these materials cannot leave a museum or are too large to observe under a microscope. Because of these challenges, many...

  • Towards a Quantitative Analysis of Aronze Axe Metalwork Wear (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rachel Crellin. Mark Purnell.

    Bronze axes are arguably the most important objects of study for understanding the start of metallurgy in Europe; a process of material transformation that irrevocably altered the prehistoric world. Yet we cannot accurately answer the simple question ‘what were bronze axes used for’? This paper aims to begin to establish more clearly the way that wear develops on the blades of bronze axes. Existing studies in metalwork wear analysis have relied on qualitative analysis of replicas used in a...

  • Where the Conventional and Unconventional Meet: Marrying Tradition and Innovation in Lithic Use-wear Analysis (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Harry Lerner.

    The majority of lithic use-wear research has been geared towards the development of newer more quantitatively precise methods involving evermore sophisticated forms of microscopy. As vital as such efforts are there is still a place in today’s interdisciplinary world for more traditional approaches when coupled with new ideas. This presentation will look at the results of a GIS analysis of experimental use-wear traces from images generated using conventional incident light microscopy....