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The Munich Archaeometry Group

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Firing of Clays Studied by X-ray Diffraction and Mssbauer Spectroscopy


W. Husler
Physik-Department E15, Technische Universitt Mnchen, 85747 Garching, Germany


Abstract
Three bentonites of varying purity were fired in air under controlled conditions up to 1300°C in an attempt to provide data for the assessment of firing techniques used in prehistoric pottery making. X-ray diffraction of samples heated at increasing temperatures allows to study the mineral transformations, the breakdown of the clay structure and the formation of new minerals in the high-temperature region. Mssbauer spectroscopy reveals the change of valence state and of the environment of the iron atoms on heating. Non iron-bearing minerals are only accessible by X-ray diffraction, while iron-containing oxidic and amorphous phases may be difficult to detect, due to poor crystallinity and small particle size. The combination of X-ray diffraction and Mssbauer spectroscopy therefore has a considerable potential in the study of the chemical and physical transformations occurring in pottery clays during firing.


Keywords
clay minerals, X-ray diffraction, Mssbauer spectroscopy, firing techniques


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Last update: 01.01.2005