Posters at the INQUA conference, Bern, July 2011

I’ve had a two abstracts accepted for poster presentations at the INQUA conference which is being held in Bern in from 20-27 July 2011.  I had hoped to be able to present the strontium paper as a presentation, but perhaps the poster format will give me more of a chance to interact with people and get some good feedback.  If you’re coming the conference, please drop by during the poster sessions and say hi!

Here’s the details:

Mofat, I., Grun, R. and Aubert, M., Strontium Isotope Tracing of Migrations in the Levant, Session 79: Open Session, Thursday 21 July.

Milani, J., Moffat, I., Roberts, A. and Aubert, M., Seeing Beneath the Skin: An Experimental Study of the Effectiveness of Magnetic Susceptibility at Imaging Rock Art, Session 34: Geoarchaeology, Monday 25 July. 


Strontium Isotope Tracing of Migrations in the Levant:

Strontium isotope methods have become a ubiquitous part of migration tracing in archaeology, due to their ability to resolve post tooth mineralisation movement between provinces with distinct bio-available strontium values.  Many studies simply address the question of “local vs non-local” however if large scale regional surveying is undertaken, opportunities exist to document distance and vector of migration.  We present the results of a large scale sampling program in Israel, covering all accessible major geological units.  The values obtained demonstrate that regional geological provinces can be well discriminated by bioavailable strontium isotopes however more local variations between similar rock types are far more difficult to resolve.  The results from this regional soil analysis are compared to Palaeolithic archaeological material in a number of case studies.

Seeing Beneath the Skin: An Experimental Study of the Effectiveness of Magnetic Susceptibility at Imaging Rock Art

The use of geophysical techniques in archaeology has become wide-spread; however these methods have rarely been applied to rock art research. There is a need to record and document rock art images as they face deterioration from environmental, industrial and human impacts. This research trialled the use of a magnetic susceptibility (MS) meter to non-invasively detect and spatially resolve ochre rock art images. Ochre is frequently used in rock art production and previous research in other contexts has shown that it emits a MS signature due to its inherent magnetic characteristics. These ochre images can be hidden behind silica or carbonate crusts or may deteriorate over time limiting their visibility. The rock art images that lie behind such crusts are likely to be protected from weathering and are amenable to dating using such techniques as uranium-series and radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).
Based on our experimental studies we have demonstrated that, if present in sufficient abundance, hematite ochre can be imaged and spatially resolved with a MS meter when applied to a rock face in a variety of geological environments. The type of binder used, pre-application heating or the rock type has no significant effect on the viability of the technique. More important to the success of a survey is the use of the correct equipment settings, a fine spatial resolution and using a correction to control instrument drift. Imaging ochre beneath a proxy crust was trialled without success; however this is attributed to poor survey design rather than a fundamental problem with the technique. The success of this trial demonstrates the validity of continuing investigations in the emerging field of rock art geophysics and highlights the importance of future trials on field sites.

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