Comparative analysis of ancient ceramics by neutron activation analysis, inductively coupled plasma-optical-emission spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, and X-ray fluorescence

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2002 Oct;374(3):566-72. doi: 10.1007/s00216-002-1444-2. Epub 2002 Sep 10.


The accurate measurement of the maximum possible number of elements in ancient ceramic samples is the main requirement in provenance studies. For this reason neutron activation analysis (NAA) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) have been successfully used for most of the studies. In this work the analytical performance of inductively coupled plasma-optical-emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) has been compared with that of XRF and NAA for the chemical characterization of archaeological pottery. Correlation coefficients between ICP techniques and XRF or NAA data were generally better than 0.90. The reproducibility of data calculated on a sample prepared and analysed independently ten times was approximately 5% for most of the elements. Results from the ICP techniques were finally evaluated for their capacity to identify the same compositional pottery groups as results from XRF and NAA analysis, by use of multivariate statistics.