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Evaluation of Painted Pottery from the Mesa Verde Region Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

  • Robert J. Speakman (a1) and Hector Neff (a1)


For decades archaeologists have struggled with the problem of accurately determining organic and mineral-based paints in pottery from the American Southwest. Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), we have developed a simple and cost-effective method that permits classification of painted surfaces into mineral and organic-based categories. By applying this method to Mesa Verde and Mancos Black-on-white pottery from the Mesa Verde Region, we were able to distinguish easily between mineral and organic-based paints. Preliminary data also suggest that multiple sub-groups of mineral-based paints exist within these ceramic types, indicating that multiple recipes for manufacturing paint may have been employed by prehistoric potters from this region.


Por varias décadas, los arqueólogos se han enfrentado al problema de distinguir con precisión entre pigmentos orgánicos y pigmentos de base mineral en la cerámica del suroeste norteamericano. Utilizando LA-ICP-MS hemos desarrollado una técnica simple y de bajo costo que permite la clasificación de superficies pintadas en categorías de pigmentos minerales y pigmentos orgánicos. Al aplicar este método a la cerámica Mesa Verde y Mancos Negro-sobre-blanco del área Mesa Verde, hemos distinguido fácilmente entre pigmentos minerales y pigmentos orgánicos. Los resultados preliminares sugieren que existen varios sub-grupos de pinturas minerales en dichos tipos cerámicos, lo cual indica que los alfareros prehistóricos de esta región utilizaron varias fórmulas para fabricar pigmentos.



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Evaluation of Painted Pottery from the Mesa Verde Region Using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

  • Robert J. Speakman (a1) and Hector Neff (a1)


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