On the feasibility of establishing the provenance of Australian Aboriginal artefacts using synchrotron radiation xrd and protoon-induced X-ray emission

Dudley Creagh, M.E Kubik, Meta Sterns

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    Museums and galleries in Australia have extensive collections of Aboriginal artefacts in their custody. In particular, the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia are custodians of works of very considerable significance, in both cultural and financial terms. Art fraud can occur, documentation relating to artefacts can be mislaid, or the artefacts can be incorrectly filed. Because of this, it has become essential to establish protocols for the objective determination of the provenance of artefacts through scientific tests. For the work reported here we are concerned with the comparison of very small quantities of materials, paint scrapings from artefacts. Scrapings from artefacts of unknown provenance are compared with those from artefacts of known provenance, and the database established using an extended set of analytical techniques by Kubik. We describe here our use of synchrotron radiation X-ray diffraction (SR-XRD) to determine the mineral phase compositions of very small amounts of pigment material (<50 μg), and the use of PIXE to give their atomic compositions to a threshold level of 1 ppm for similar masses of material
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)721-725
    Number of pages5
    JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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