Applications of Geochemistry in Archaeology

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Geochemistry and Geochronology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 March 2023) | Viewed by 6946

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Prehistory Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Valencia, Avda. Blasco Ibáñez, 28, 46010 Valencia, Spain
Interests: archaeological science; chemical elements; archaeological materials; analytical chemistry
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Guest Editor
Department of Earth Sciences, Università of Pisa, Via Santa Maria 53, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: applied petrography; urban geology; environmental mineralogy; geomaterials; clays and clay minerals; cultural heritage
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleague,

During recent decades, the development of geochemical methods to characterize archaeological materials and potential sources has been constantly expanding, due to the limitations of an approach based only on naked-eye observation, becoming a well-established practice in archaeological research. Indeed,  the identification of raw material provenance for archaeological artefacts is a key source of evidence for a better understanding of the mobility of human groups from the past. The geochemical identification and characterization of raw material, as previously carried out in several studies, and the connection between raw material and archaeological artefacts have been fundamental to reconstruct aspects such as settlement dynamics, exchanges and patterns of raw material exploitation, and manufacturing processes.

Spectroscopic techniques such as ultraviolet-visible and infrared spectroscopies, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, and mass spectrometry, among others, have been employed to study archaeological remains.

This Special Issue covers a wide range of destructive and non-destructive analytical techniques used for characterizing the mineralogical and elemental compositions of archaeological remains and raw materials, attempting to find answers to questions of provenance, manufacturing, deposition and material conservation.

We are also open to studies combining spectroscopic techniques and other such methods, such as microscopic approaches. Works cross-referencing analytical data and classic archaeological methods are also welcome. Finally, manuscripts that open the floor to debate on the development of innovative methodological approaches and the quality of the obtained data will be valuable to this collection.

Dr. Gianni Gallello
Prof. Dr. Marco Lezzerini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • geochemistry
  • applied petrography
  • spectroscopy
  • microscopy
  • stable isotopes
  • archaeological remains
  • statistics

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

22 pages, 9787 KiB  
Article
Multi-Analytical Techniques to Define the Mineralogical and Petrophysical Characteristics and Provenance of Siliceous Lithic Findings: The Case Study of La Calvera Rock Shelter (Cantabria, Spain)
by Stefano Columbu, Dario Fancello, Gianni Gallello, Mirco Ramacciotti and Agustin Diez-Castillo
Minerals 2023, 13(5), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13050666 - 12 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1868
Abstract
This archaeometric study aims at characterizing the archaeological finds belonging to the lithic industry from La Calvera rock shelter (Camaleño, Cantabria) and at hypothesizing the possible provenance of each material. The site, located in the mountainous area of Picos de Europa National Park [...] Read more.
This archaeometric study aims at characterizing the archaeological finds belonging to the lithic industry from La Calvera rock shelter (Camaleño, Cantabria) and at hypothesizing the possible provenance of each material. The site, located in the mountainous area of Picos de Europa National Park (more than 1000 m a.s.l.) close to the megalithic complex of Peña Oviedo, is characterized by the presence of hearths and charcoal remains, ancient pottery, and a rich lithic assemblage composed of siliceous rocks dating back to >8000 BP and linked to the first Holocene occupations of the Cantabrian Mountains. For the study of the rock shelter’s lithic assemblage, a multi-analytical approach was used: SEM-EDS and XRD analyses were performed to define the microtextural characteristics of samples and to identify the amorphous/crystalline phases; physical and mechanical tests were conducted to define the petrophysical properties (density, porosity, imbibition and saturation indexes, mechanical strength) of the samples. Preliminary data of chemical compositions, obtained by portable XRF, are also presented. The results show that the different siliceous materials (quartzite, cherts, hyaline quartz) can be distinguished through the basic analytical techniques used here. In addition, most of the archaeological samples have mineralogical and petrographic features similar to the natural samples coming from nearby outcrops, corroborating the hypothesis of a local material supply. The presence of local sources of useful raw materials could have favoured the site’s occupation. Finally, the diverse compositional and textural feature of the analysed materials result in different mechanical properties (porosity, density, hardness, workability), so they likely had different uses and technical functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Geochemistry in Archaeology)
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25 pages, 5971 KiB  
Article
Origin of Historical Ba-Rich Slags Related to Pb-Ag Production from Jihlava Ore District (Czech Republic)
by Jaroslav Kapusta, Zdeněk Dolníček, Ondra Sracek and Karel Malý
Minerals 2022, 12(8), 985; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12080985 - 02 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1899
Abstract
The aim of this study was to characterize historical slags which originated during silver production from the Jihlava ore district, Czech Republic. The area was among the head producers of silver within the Lands of the Czech Crown in 13th–14th centuries. The mined [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to characterize historical slags which originated during silver production from the Jihlava ore district, Czech Republic. The area was among the head producers of silver within the Lands of the Czech Crown in 13th–14th centuries. The mined ores had complex composition, being formed mostly by pyrite, sphalerite, galena, chalcopyrite, and accessory silver-rich minerals such as silver-bearing tetrahedrite (freibergite) or pyrargyrite, with gangue represented by quartz and Mn-rich carbonates or baryte. Large volumes of slags with contrasting composition were generated during the Pb-Ag production. Altogether, two main types of slags were identified in the district. The first type is characterized by high BaO contents (up to 34.5 wt.%) and dominancy of glass, minor quartz, and accessory amounts of Ba-rich feldspar (up to 93 mol.% of Cls), metal-rich inclusions, Ba-Pb sulphates and only rare pyroxene, wollastonite and melilite. The composition of the second group belongs to fayalitic slags containing glass, Fe-rich olivine, accessory pyroxene, feldspar, quartz, and inclusions of various metallic phases. Fluxes were derived from gangue (quartz, carbonates, baryte) or local host rocks for both types of slag. The calculated viscosity indexes reflect (with minor exceptions) medium-to-high effectivity of metal separation. Smelting temperatures were estimated from a series of ternary plots; however, more reliable estimates for both types of slags were obtained only from experimental determination of melting temperature and calculations using bulk/glass compositions (~1100–1200 °C). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Geochemistry in Archaeology)
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10 pages, 1656 KiB  
Article
Total vs. Partial Acid Digestion Methods for Trace Element Analysis in Archaeological Sediments
by Gianni Gallello, Mirco Ramacciotti, Oreto García Puchol, Marco Lezzerini, Sarah B. McClure and Agustín Pastor
Minerals 2022, 12(6), 685; https://doi.org/10.3390/min12060685 - 29 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2317
Abstract
Trace element analysis of sediments from archaeological sites is a valuable method to investigate the anthropic impact and obtain information on the functions of different areas and changes in human activities. One of the most used and effective techniques to carry out this [...] Read more.
Trace element analysis of sediments from archaeological sites is a valuable method to investigate the anthropic impact and obtain information on the functions of different areas and changes in human activities. One of the most used and effective techniques to carry out this kind of analysis is inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. This technique needs a previous dissolution of the sample by acid attack, but the development of the best method is still a discussed issue. In the present work, total and partial digestion methods were carried out in sediment samples of Cueva de la Cocina (Dos Aguas, Spain), and trace elements were measured and statistically compared. Major elements, soil organic matter amount, and pH data were used to evaluate the main drivers of trace element contents. The differences between the results from the two methods were highlighted. Total digestion is more effective for aluminosilicates and heavy minerals, although the partial digestion results suggested that, in most cases, the difference between the two methods is irrelevant for archaeological interpretations. Furthermore, in some cases, the total digestion of the mineral phases related to the geological contribution could mask the anthropic elemental signals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Geochemistry in Archaeology)
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