Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale, Associate Professor of Geoscience Dave Bailey, Professor of Anthropology Tom Jones, Catherine Prescott ’12, Elizabeth Scholz ’13, recent graduate Nick Stagliano ’11 and Chelsea Lewis ’13 published their article titled “pXRF: A study of inter-instrument performance” in the Journal of Archaeological Science. The paper began as a class project during the fall 2010 in Arch 325: Analytical Methods in Archaeology.
The article examines the precision and accuracy of portable X-ray fluorescence instruments and the comparability of data produced by different instruments. The general technique of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy has long been used in archaeology to source stone tools back to their original provenience. Today, new low-cost, portable instruments are making the technique available in the field, and applicable to a wider range of materials. The goal of the project was to examine whether multiple instruments produce comparable data. The group found that this is not the case; in order to correct this problem, future archaeological studies using pXRF instruments have to follow the protocols used in commercial X-ray fluorescence laboratories.