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Book Chapter

The archaeologist as a detective: scientific techniques and the investigation of past societies

By
Julian Henderson
Julian Henderson
Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham, University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
(e-mail: julian.henderson@nottngham.ac.uk)
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Published:
January 01, 2004

Abstract

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.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications

K. Pye
K. Pye
Kenneth Pye Associates Ltd & Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
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D. J. Croft
D. J. Croft
Croft Scientific and Technical & Kenneth Pye Associates Ltd, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
232
ISBN electronic:
9781862394803
Publication date:
January 01, 2004

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