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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Nuclear Archaeology Program Archives

The Nuclear Archaeology Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) was one of the first-generation archaeometry labs in the world, operating between the 1960s and the early 1990s (Asaro and Adan-Bayewitz 2007). While in operation, the Berkeley lab produced compositional data on an estimated 10,000 archaeological samples, mostly by neutron activation and X-ray fluorescence. Although well known for analysis of pottery from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, LBNL also analyzed over 300 archaeological specimens from the Americas and over 800 specimens from Africa.

This database covers data from the initiation of NAA at LBNL in the late 1960s until the late 1980s. In 2006, an archive of the LBNL was transferred to the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) for digitization, curation, and public distribution. Materials transferred to MURR are in varying stages of completeness and include surplus powders, over 6000 pages of laboratory correspondence and hand-written descriptions of archaeological specimens, over 3000 photographs, approximately 1000 pages of irradiation records, five two-drawer file cabinets of COM microfiche, and 20 bound volumes of elemental abundances. The massive amount of compositional data in the archive, and the presence of detailed descriptive data provide the most thorough record in existence of the LBNL’s archaeometric research. In addition to archaeological and geochemical data, the LBNL archive contains a substantial amount of historical documentation including correspondence, records of transfer, and solicitation letters, making it an ideal primary source of data for the history of archaeometry and archaeology.

Since 2006, the MURR Archaeometry Laboratory has worked to digitize the records and information in the LBNL archive. These efforts have focused on stabilizing the LBNL archive and producing a digital copy suitable for future research. In 2011, Matthew T. Boulanger and Michael D. Glascock of the MURR laboratory were awarded a grant from Digital Antiquity to finalize work on the LBNL archives and make these data available through tDAR. That initial posting (v.1) contained records for 8253 specimens of pottery analyzed at LBNL, of which, chemical data for 5308 (64%) had been located. In July 2014, all of the data files were updated to reflect additional data that had been located and digitized in the intervening 3.5 years. The updated files (v.2) contain records for 8462 specimens, of which 7386 (87%) have accompanying chemical data. Chemical data for approximately 50 additional specimens exist in the offline database at MURR.

Although every effort has been made to ensure that these data are accurate to the original source documents, errors may yet exist. Any errors or inconsistencies may be brought to the attention of the MURR Archaeometry Laboratory.


Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-100 of 198)

LBNL Nuclear Archaeology Program Notebooks

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from Armenia

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from California

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from Cyprus

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from Egypt

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from France

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from Georgia

Neutron Activation Analysis of Ceramics from Greece

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Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America