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Handheld XRF for Art and Archaeology

Aaron N. Shugar, Jennifer L. Mass

Publication Year: 2013

Over the last decade the technique of X-ray fluorescence has evolved, from dependence on laboratory-based standalone units to field use of portable and lightweight handheld devices. These portable instruments have given researchers in art conservation and archaeology the opportunity to study a broad range of materials with greater accessibility and flexibility than ever before. In addition, the low relative cost of handheld XRF has led many museums, academic institutions, and cultural centres to invest in the devices for routine materials analysis purposes. Although these instruments often greatly simplify data collection, proper selection of analysis conditions and interpretation of the data still require an understanding of the principles of x-ray spectroscopy. These instruments are often marketed and used as ‘point and shoot' solutions; however, their inexpert use can easily generate deceptive or erroneous results. This volume focuses specifically on the applications, possibilities, and limitations of handheld XRF in art conservation and archaeology. The papers deal with experimental methodologies, protocols, and possibilities of handheld XRF analysis in dealing with the complexity of materials encountered in this research.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Series: Studies in Archaeological Sciences

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. 5-6

Table of Contents

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pp. 7-8

List of Illustrations

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pp. 9-14

List of Tables

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pp. 15-16

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1. Introduction

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pp. 17-36

...Over the last decade the advancement of X-ray generation and detection technology has allowed the instrumentation of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to evolve from laboratory-based standalone units to highly portable and lightweight handheld devices (Piorek 1998; Potts, 2008). These instruments [termed handheld XRF or portable XRF (PXRF) spectrometers] have given researchers in the fields...

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2. Handheld X-ray fluorescence analysis of Renaissance bronzes: Practical approaches to quantification and acquisition

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pp. 37-74

...Handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) has become a highly desirable technique for the investigation of works of art that makes it possible to perform quantitative elemental analysis regardless of location. Until now XRF analysis has been limited to the collections of institutions with scientific resources, temporary loans to those institutions, or, less commonly, objects transported for testing with...

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3. Application of a handheld XRF spectrometer in research and identification of photographs

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pp. 75-130

...The era of classical or chemical photography began in the early 19th century with key camera based experiments by Thomas Wedgwood (Eder 1978) and Joseph Nicephore Niepce (Marignier 1999), and with the introduction of the first “practical” photographic process by Daguerre in 1839 (Daguerre 1839). Since then more than 150 different photographic processes and process variants have...

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4. Handheld XRF for the examination of paintings: proper use and limitations

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pp. 131-158

...When investigating paintings, examination of pigments often commences with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) even though this method only infers pigments via the elemental substituents identified. It is often amongst the first tools used because sometimes elemental data is sufficient for pigment characterization and it can be obtained without sampling or contact. However, the interpretation of data from ...

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5. XRF analysis of manuscript illuminations

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pp. 159-190

...Illuminated manuscripts, bound books consisting of pages (folios) of either parchment or paper containing written text, painted illustrations (often decorated with gold, from which the term “illumination” is derived), decorative initial letters and borders or margin designs, are among the most prevalent object types to survive into the modern era (Brown 1994; de Hamel 2001; Clemens and Graham 2007)...

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6. XRF analysis of historical paper in open books

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pp. 191-214

...In 2007 the Institute for Museum and Library Services funded research at the University of Iowa Center for the Book designed to gather data on previously unstudied components in 14th through 19th century western papers. The research employed non-destructive analytical techniques fairly new to the paper conservation field. Its purpose was to provide conservators and other preservation specialists ...

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7. Quantitative non-destructive analysis of historic silver alloys: X-ray fluorescence approaches and challenges

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pp. 215-248

...Winterthur Museum’s Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory has used open architecture energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to study historic silver alloys since 1970. These alloy analyses are carried out to answer questions about an object’s provenance, authenticity, technology of manufacture, and state of preservation...

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8. The analysis of porcelain using handheld and portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometers

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pp. 249-312

...Porcelain objects are most often curated as part of decorative arts collections or those highlighting the arts of Asia. Unless pursued as part of archaeometric studies that involve object fragments or production-related debris, the compositional study of porcelain bodies presents a special challenge due to the need that sample removal be avoided. Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometers have the potential ...

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9. Handheld XRF use in the identification of heavy metal pesticides in ethnographic collections

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pp. 313-348

...A wide range of pest control techniques has been used on museum collections, in particular on natural history and ethnographic collections. These include the use of heavy metal compounds which are considered the most persistent forms of pesticide. The proliferation of handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (XRF), with their non-destructive/ non-invasive nature of analysis, in the fields of art conservation...

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10. Using handheld XRF to aid in phasing, locus comparisons, and material homogeneity assessment at an archaeological excavation

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pp. 349-378

...The availability of a number of commercially produced, affordable, handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers has meant that this instrument has become an important and valuable tool for field archaeologists. Characterization of various materials such as ceramics (Papadopoulou et al. 2006), glass (Ricci et al. 2004), metals (Karydas et al. 2004; Karydas 2007), and mortars (Donais et al. 2010) ...

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11. Handheld XRF elemental analysis of archaeological sediments: some examples from Mesoamerica

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pp. 379-400

...The highly portable, durable handheld XRF instruments that have appeared on the market over the past few years hold tremendous potential for archaeology. The instruments can easily be transported to remote field stations, where they can either be set up and used in a field lab or used on-site, to analyze artifacts or sediments in situ. The present paper focuses on sediment analysis, which is useful ...

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12. X-Ray fluorescence of obsidian: approaches to calibration and the analysis of small samples

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pp. 401-422

...For decades, archaeologists have used a number of techniques to determine the compositions of geological sources of chemically homogenous materials and then attempted to match artifacts to sources to understand trade and exchange of material objects. Such provenance research is common with glassy rhyolites (obsidian) that were used wherever available as a source of raw material for flaked stone artifacts ...

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13. Handheld XRF analysis of Maya ceramics: a pilot study presenting issues related to quantification and calibration

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pp. 423-448

...The investigation of archaeological ceramics has a long and varied history with regard to the analytical instrumentation used (for general examples, see Peacock 1970; Bishop et al. 1982; Rice 1987; Pollard et al. 2007). In recent years newer applications have been used for the analysis of ceramic materials as well, including ICP-MS (Fermo et al. 2008; Mannino and Orecchio 2011) and INAA (Glascock 1992; Neff 2000) ...

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14. Glass analysis utilizing handheld X-ray fluorescence

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pp. 449-470

...The analysis of glass artifacts, whether they are modern, historical or archaeological, has been a major focus of investigation for cultural heritage researchers. The seminal paper by Sayre and Smith (1961) demonstrated the value in determining the chemical composition of glass to aid in the identification of the manufacturing raw materials. Since then the chemical composition of glass has ...


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pp. 471-472

The Editors

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pp. 473-474

E-ISBN-13: 9789461660695
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058679079

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Studies in Archaeological Sciences