Applying pXRF Technology to Repatriation at the National Museum of Natural History

Author(s): Meredith Luze

Year: 2018


The Anthropology collections at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) have a long history of treatment with pesticides and contact with other materials that contain potentially hazardous elements. When the NMNH Repatriation Office began to use portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) technology, it focused on identifying potentially hazardous elements on archaeology, ethnology, and physical anthropology collections. If identified, the Repatriation Office attempted to determine the source of these elements, particularly from substances used and applied by the original makers and users of the objects and from substances applied during their curation. The Repatriation Office has since expanded the application of pXRF beyond hazardous materials testing, working with tribes to find new ways to address questions and meet their needs for and beyond repatriation. To date, pXRF has been used to assist in dating sites and human remains by analyzing metal alloys, to attempt to reassociate human remains with funerary objects, to reassociate commingled human remains, and to source artifacts and human remains. Many of these approaches have been undertaken at the request of tribes and have now been incorporated into the standard documentation process for all objects and human remains requested for repatriation.

Cite this Record

Applying pXRF Technology to Repatriation at the National Museum of Natural History. Meredith Luze. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445356)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21537