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Acc Chem Res. 2002 Aug;35(8):618-27.

Chemical fingerprinting and source tracing of obsidian: the central Mediterranean trade in black gold.

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Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33620, USA.


Chemical fingerprinting using major or trace element composition is used to characterize the Mediterranean island sources of obsidian and can even differentiate as many as nine flows in the Monte Arci region of Sardinia. Analysis of significant numbers of obsidian artifacts from Neolithic sites in the central Mediterranean reveals specific patterns of source exploitation and suggests particular trade mechanisms and routes. The use of techniques such as X-ray fluorescence, the electron microprobe, neutron activation analysis, and laser ablation ICP mass spectrometry are emphasized in order to produce quantitative results while minimizing damage to valuable artifacts.


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