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EDXRF Spectrometry and Complementary Non-Destructive Analytical Techniques in the Archaeometric Study of Copper Artefacts


Christos S. Katsifas* and George A. Zachariadis   Pages 1 - 12 ( 12 )


Background: For more than a decade, Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometry is the primary analytical technique in archaeometric research and especially in the study of ancient copper artefacts. EDXRF has established itself as the fundamental archaeometric analytical technique because of features like: the ability to analyze samples in a non destructive or non invasive way, no requirements for sample preparation, portability, in situ analysis, simultaneous determination of many elements and finally its easy in use. At the same time there is an explosion of related research publications which provide new possibilities to museums and archaeology scientists. On the other hand, due to its limitations it cannot provide information for every analytical question.

Objective: The goal of this article is to present an overview of the capabilities of the contemporary EDXRF spectrometry for the study of ancient copper artifacts and the necessity to be implemented, depending on the analytical question, in correlation with complementary analytical techniques which are presented through related case studies.

Conclusion: The demand for studying artefacts in situ, the evolution of the instrumentation and the access of more scientists (historians, archaeologists, curators etc.) to archaeometry will maintain EDXRF spectrometry as the central analytical technique. Limitations like inability for light elements detection, penetration depth, low (relatively) sensitivity can be partially overcome with the implementation of other analytical techniques which will provide complementary information. Moreover, progress in non-invasive analysis and new portable instruments combining elemental and molecular techniques expand significantly the capabilities of in situ analysis.


XRF, copper artefacts, archaeometrynon-destructive.


Laboratory of Physicochemical Studies & Archaeometry, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54621, Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki 54124

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