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Calcif Tissue Int. 2002 Feb;70(2):103-10. Epub 2001 Dec 21.

Microfocus small angle X-ray scattering reveals structural features in archaeological bone samples: detection of changes in bone mineral habit and size.

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Centre for Extracellular Matrix Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland, UK.


Microfocus X-ray scattering provides a powerful nondestructive technique capable of providing important information about the size, habit, and arrangement of mineral crystals in bone. The technique is capable of probing textural differences in a sample at a micron scale resolution. The study presented here involved the analysis of a number of archaeological bones by microfocus X-ray scattering at the ESRF Grenoble in order to determine local changes in mineral durability. The results showed that regions of bone with a modified microscopic morphology contained a greater dispersion of crystal shape when compared with more intact regions and control contemporary bone samples, but the crystal thickness values showed similar consistency. We speculate that the persistence of collagen in the archaeological bone may allow diagenetic remodeling of bone in terms of crystallite shape but defines the size of remodelled crystallites. The ability to detect such local changes in texture has wide potential for determining crystal characteristics in healthy and diseased bone samples.

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