31st International Symposium on Archaeometry Budapest, 27 April 1 May 1998

Archaeometric Preliminary Study of Volcanic Rock Millstones from Pompei - the Problem of their Provenance

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33. Archaeometric Preliminary Study of Volcanic Rock Millstones from Pompei - the Problem of their Provenance

L. Buffone*, S. Lorenzoni**, M. Pallara**, E. Zanettin**

*Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei, Italy

**Universitá degli Studi di Bari, Dipartimento Geomineralogico, Bari, Italy

29 samples of "Pompeian" type and "disc" type millstones from Pompei have been studied by both petrological and chemical methods, to define their lithological constitution. Moreover, field researches have been performed in the Bolsena-Vico-Bracciano and Roccamonfina regions to locate the source area of the millstones.

The millstones studied are constituted of leucite-pyroxene (±olivine, sanidine, haüyne) tephrites and tephrites-phonolites belonging to four lithological groups, different in composition and/or structure and attributable to different volcanic formations. Only one "disc" type millstone is constituted of basalt.

P. Nicotera (1950) considers Roccamonfina volcano the probable source of the Pompei millstones. Instead, D.P.S. Peacock (1986) states that the millstones of Pompei come from a lava flow of the Orvieto zone. Our researches indicate that the Pompei millstones come from different localities. The tephrite millstones are attributable to the Roccamonfina volcano, and precisely to the lava flows of its western slopes, facing the Garigliano river. The tephrite-phonolite millstones are attributable to the lava flow outcropping near Orvieto. The basalt millstone is referable to the Mt. Etna volcano. Only a few millstones might come from the Bolsena-Vico-Bracciano area.


P. Nicotera ,1950, Sulle rocce laviche dell' antica Pompei. "Pompeiana".

Raccolta di studi per il secondo centenario degli scavi di Pompei: 1-30 Napoli.

D.P.S. Peacock,1986, The production of roman millstones near Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. The Antiquaries Journal: LXVI, part I, 45-51.

34. DNA techniques in Archaeometry. News and progresses.

J. Burger, B. Grosskopf, S. Hummel, B. Herrmann

Institute of Anthropology, Buergerstrasse 50, 37 0 73 Goettingen, Tel: 49-551-39 96 85; e-mail: jburger@gwdg.de

This paper shows the materials for which and the extent to which DNA analysis can be a useful tool in archaeometry. In the framework of an archaeometric project at the Institute of Anthropology, Goettingen, the content of both historic and prehistoric objects is analysed. The objects are of different types, such as: prehistoric stone artefacts, parchments, glues, various contents of vessels, and prehistoric rock art paintings.

The paper will focus on the identification of the animal or plant species of origin of a specimen by ancient DNA analysis. The accuracy of the DNA method will be compared with other techniques such as crossover immuno-electrophoresis (CIEP) or enzyme-linked immunoabsorbant assay (ELISA).

DNA results are given for rock art pigments and blood residues on stone tools.

35. Correlation of barium and strontium during trophic-level biopurification and its osteoarchaeological implications

James H. Burton, T. Douglas Price, W. D. Middleton

Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In order to more fully understand the relationship between diet and bone levels of barium and strontium, we analayzed by ICP spectroscopy thousands of modern mammal bones, plants, and soils. Our results reveal a strong correlation between barium and strontium, relative to calcium, with increasing trophic position as a result of biopurification.

This correlation indicates that bones present excellent statistical averages of local environmental barium and strontium levels and thus that strontium isotope ratios in bone can reflect regional geology despite intrinsic local variability in soil Sr87/86 ratios. This is further supported by observed homogeneity in bone Sr87/86 ratios.

A second implication of this correlation is that, by measuring both barium and strontium in fossil bones we can assess their post-mortem contamination directly rather than relying on proxies such as Ca/P ratios and crystallinity indices.

36. Chemical and mineralogical alteration of ceramics from a Late Bronze Age kiln at Kommos, Crete: the effect of firing temperature

J. Buxeda i Garrigós*, V. Kilikoglou**, P.M. Day***, L. Joyner***

*ERAUB, Dpt. of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Barcelona, c/ de Baldiri i Reixac, s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.

**Laboratory of Archaeometry, N.C.S.R. Demokritos, Aghia Paraskevi, 15310 Attiki, Greece.

***Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, Northgate House, West Street, Sheffield S1 4ET, UK.

One of the most secure procedures for the formation of control groups in pottery provenance studies using chemical analysis, has been considered to be the use of kiln wasters, which are assumed to produce chemical profiles representative of local production.

The excavation of a pottery kiln dating to the Late Minoan I period at Kommos provides an opportunity for the analytical investigation of a certain production assemblage. Fifty-seven samples were analysed by INAA, XRF, thin section petrography, SEM and XRD, to characterise, in chemical and mineralogical terms, the ceramic fabrics produced in the kiln and to investigate their technology. The majority of the pottery analysed belonged to three major, calcareous petrographic fabric groups, differentiated from each other on the basis of the inclusions’ grain size.

Chemical data, however, revealed some extreme variations in the alkaline elemental contents, which did not coincide with the idea of a common provenance. Further examination by XRD and SEM has provided important information about the mineral composition and the firing temperatures of each sample. It is clear that the chemical groups correlate with the firing temperature of the different vessels. This is explained as selective alteration and contamination in the burial environment, related to the existence of different characteristics (mainly, in mineralogy, vitrification and microstructure) in the fired products.

Kiln sites contain pottery of widely varying firing temperature, therefore the result of this study provide an important observation on the use of such material in control groups. The use of combined mineralogical and chemical techniques is recommended in order to avoid erroneous conclusions.

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