The potential of lacquer-peel soil profiles for palaeo-geochemical analysis using XRF analysis

Arnoldussen, S. & van Os, B. J. H., 2015, In : Catena. 128, p. 16-30

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

This paper discusses the suitability of hand-held XRF analysis to extract palaeo-geochemical information from lacquer-peel soil sections that have been taken to document pedological information at geological and archaeological sites. This not only allows the study of sections from archaeological and geological sites that have since disappeared, but can also answer new archaeological questions on the nature of activities undertaken at such sites. Seven lacquer-peels, from different time-periods and different geogenetic backdrops, have been studied with hand-held XRF (Niton XL3t, GOLDD detector). Five of these lacquer-peels were studied to assess possible interference from mounting materials (glues, textiles and framing boards) used. Four of these lacquer-peels were studied for their palaeo-geochemical information. These lacquer-peels were taken from prehistoric agricultural plots and settlement sites, ranging in age from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Values for Si, K, Al, Fe, Ti, Sr, Zr and Rb reflect lithogenetic and pedological processes. The contents of S, Ca and P were used as a proxy for anthropogenic influence. The lacquer-peels provided consistent and reliable geochemical readings with the hand-held XRF. Observed correspondence between pedological predictions, archaeological hypotheses and the measured results testifies to the suitability of hand-held XRF for palaeo-geochemical characterization. Interference from the primarily organic fixing- and mounting-agents used was absent. Consequently, hand-held XRF analysis allows extraction of palaeo-geochemical information from lacquer-peel soil sections, which opens-up a new potential data-set for reconstructing past pollution and to geochemically re-assess geological and archaeological sites from existent lacquer peels — adding a geochemical dimension to lacquer-peels of pedological, archaeological and geological sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-30
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • XRF, lacquer-peel, prehist, prehistoric agriculture, palaeogeochemistry, geochemical analysis, geochemistry

ID: 16217181