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Sharjah Museums Department explores use of nuclear techniques in archaeology

posted on 20/04/2014: 2396 views



The Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) recently explored the use of nuclear techniques in archaeology, specifically in determining the age of pottery, papyrus and mummies.

Represented by Nasir Al Darmaki, Curator, Sharjah Archaeology Museum, SMD attended a workshop organised by the Arab League of Education, Culture and Science Organisation (ALECSO), after being nominated by the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities. The workshop saw 17 countries from around the world take part, in collaboration with the Arab Atomic Energy Agency.

The workshop focussed on providing training for academic and research personnel who specialise in nuclear technology or archaeology in their museum roles. Topics included environmental control systems, anthropological studies, biological degradation, historical eras, and age valuation of pottery, papyrus, and mummies.

The workshop also covered methods of nuclear analysis, including fluorescent and particle-induced X-ray, using the electron microscope, neutron activation analysis, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, Carbon-14 radiocarbon dating, thermal radiation, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

Archaeological samples are typically categorised by source and era in order to document their historical age accurately. They are categorised by the study of their shape and an analysis of how they appear externally, as well as several other aspects. These aspects include the identification of certain chemical components within the artefacts and the isotope analysis of Strontium and Lanthanides. Isolating and identifying levels of these elements helps determine the exhibit's source.

The workshop was held at the Egyptian Nuclear Energy Agency, with field visits to leading archaeological sites such as the Pyramids, Sakkara as well as the Egyptian museum. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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