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A New Application of Fiber-Optic Reflection Spectroscopy (FORS): Characterization of Low-Temperature Alteration of Chlorite Schist and Implications for Understanding Ancient Stone Cooking Vessels

Volume 65, Number 1 (Jan. 2011) Page 43-51

DVORY NAMDAR,* GIOVANNI VERRI, REBECCA J. STACEY,† ANDREW MIDDLETON, and St JOHN SIMPSON


Bulk thermal alterations to chlorite schist occurring at temperatures above 450 °C are traditionally studied using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, or thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), but lower temperature changes that lead to structural and chemical alteration, including changes in oxidation state that are not followed by a crystalline modification, are not detectable using these techniques. In this paper we present the results of the first study to examine the application of fiber-optic reflection spectroscopy (FORS) for the detection and quantification of low-temperature thermal alterations in chlorite schist. Such changes have been observed during research on the thermal behavior of medieval (12th–13th centuries AD) chlorite cooking pots from the archaeological site of Merv, Turkmenistan. FORS was used to investigate these changes, testing the archaeological samples against a model data set of experimental reference specimens. The results demonstrate the potential of FORS for tracking low-temperature thermal alterations and offer the opportunity to examine temperatures attained by ancient chlorite vessels during their past use in cooking activities.

Index Headings: Fiber-optic reflection spectroscopy; FORS; Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; FT-IR spectroscopy; X-ray diffraction; XRD; Chlorite; Thermogravimetric analysis; TGA; Archaeology; Cooking; Heritage conservation.