Recent research has demonstrated that Handheld (portable) X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (pXRF) have difficulty in consistently and accurately determining chemical composition of non-homogenous cultural materials such as ceramics. This is unfortunate as pXRF instruments have proven to produce accurate and consistent compositional data for other archaeological materials like obsidian and metal. They are also known for being a non-destructive way to test chemical composition, maintaining the artifacts' integrity; saving time, money and solving issues related to the transportation of artifacts. While pXRF instruments do not always perform as well as conventional methods, such as Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), bench-top XRF, and Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), they still allow archaeologists to identify other patterns related to composition. In this thesis I report on the chemical compositional patterns generated through handheld XRF study of ceramic sherds from the Maya site of Holtun, Guatemala. These sherds have been previously run with NAA and subject to petrographic analysis. I compare the pXRF data for ceramic pastes with NAA to further test limitations of pXRF on archaeological ceramic pastes, and to identify any patterns unique to pXRF analysis.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Whyte, Rachel, "Working Toward a Lost Cause? Comparing pXRF Analysis to Neutron Activation Analysis using Maya Ceramics from Holtun, Guatemala" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 427.