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Elemental Analysis of Human Bone using a non-destructive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer

Author(s): Christine Bergmann ; Robert Tykot ; Robert Bowers

Year: 2016

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Peru is commonly known for having the largest empire in pre-Columbian America but relatively less is known about the subsistence and migratory patterns of the pre-Inca communities that existed from the Initial Period through the Early Intermediate Period. During the Initial Period, interaction and trade was prevalent among coastal, inland, and highland populations with trade interactions intensifying later in time with peoples from the highlands. Our research tests the hypothesis that increased reliance on exchange networks among highland, coastal, and valley communities resulted in increased migration of highland populations into the coastal valleys. In support of our hypothesis, a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer was used to measure strontium, barium, calcium, and other elements in human bone from three archaeological sites in Peru, from varying and overlapping time periods, to elucidate dietary practices. Although the use of a non-destructive pXRF has become a very beneficial tool for the analysis of archaeological materials, relatively little has been done on human bone, due to limitations of surface analysis and issues regarding contamination and degradation. In addition, newly created bone standards are used to calibrate and enhance the validity of our data, as we apply this technique to other skeletal collections in the future.

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Elemental Analysis of Human Bone using a non-destructive portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. Christine Bergmann, Robert Tykot, Robert Bowers. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404749)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

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