Discovering Hidden Layers with X-Ray Vision: New Applications of pXRF to Rock Art Studies


Exploring new applications of portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to the study of rock art, we report the determination of paint layer stratigraphy based upon measured elemental levels. In Lower Pecos rock art, we were able to discern when red and yellow paints superimpose black paints based on elevated levels of manganese. This ability to see underneath paint layers with "X-ray vision" shows great promise in answering stratigraphic ambiguities, complimenting Dino-Lite digital microscopy. In addition, we collected Munsell color designations for each pXRF analysis spot so that we could compare major elemental levels with pigment color and value. We were also able to confirm suspected gunshot damage at a rock art site. These results highlight the advantages of this non-destructive technique.

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Cite this Record

Discovering Hidden Layers with X-Ray Vision: New Applications of pXRF to Rock Art Studies. Karen Steelman, Victoria Muñoz, Jeremy Freeman, Carolyn Boyd. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395167)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;