The archaeologist as a detective: scientific techniques and the investigation of past societies
Julian Henderson, 2004. "The archaeologist as a detective: scientific techniques and the investigation of past societies", Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications, K. Pye, D. J. Croft
Download citation file:
The use of scientific techniques in the investigation of archaeological sites and artefacts has a long history. These days archaeological science as a discipline has matured to the extent that well-defined questions can be answered in increasingly refined ways. In this paper consideration of specific case studies highlights the kinds of investigations that have been carried out on archaeological materials. The research projects are described in ways that show parallel approaches to more recent types of research in police forensic work. The two case studies focused on are: (1) Islamic glass production — a cross-roads in technology? (eighth to twelfth centuries ad); (2) Ottoman Iznik pottery: the state of the art or the art of the State? (fifteenth to seventeenth centuries ad). A range of analytical techniques has been used, including electron microprobe analysis, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy and mass spectrometry. Clearly these techniques provide different (and sometimes overlapping) information which help to answer research questions. The characterization of raw materials, production processes and distribution zones of the products all form part of a holistic approach. Ideally the results should be embedded in our knowledge of past societies, just as the interpretation of police forensic work should be.
Figures & Tables
Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications
Forensic geoscience is an increasingly important sub-discipline within geoscience and forensic science. Although minerals, soils, dusts and rock fragments have been used as only begun to be recognized in the last ten years or so. The police and other investigative bodies are keen to encourage such developments in the fight against crime, particularly since many criminals show a high level of forensic awareness with regard to evidence such as fingerprints, blood and other body fluids. The papers in this volume illustrate some of the main principles, techniques and applications in current forensic geoscience, covering research and casework in the UK and internationally. The techniques described range from macro-scale field geophysical investigations to micro-scale laboratory studies of the chemical and textural properties of individual particles. In addition to forensic applications, many of these techniques have broad utility in geological, geomorphological, soil science and archaeological research.