Materials analyses of pyrotechnological objects from LBA Tiryns, Greece, by means of Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS): Results and a critical assessment of the method

Publication date: July 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 83
Author(s): Ann Brysbaert, Panayiotis Siozos, Melissa Vetters, Aggelos Philippidis, Demetrios Anglos
Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) was used in the investigation of pyrotechnological materials (metal and ceramic items, glass-based objects, plaster-based materials) from several Late Bronze Age workshop and activity area contexts at Tiryns, Greece. The use of a portable instrument, which could be brought into the study place where all objects were housed, was crucial in order to establish the elemental content or verify the material composition of almost all materials analysed. In almost all cases, the LIBS analyses led to the preliminary identification of the materials investigated. In most cases, the results sufficed to confirm earlier research carried out or was in agreement with similar analyses published in the literature. The analyses demonstrate that the micro-invasive LIBS technique provides useful preliminary elemental characterization of most of the pyrotechnological materials while for some, additional work needs to be conducted for securing conclusive results. Essentially, the portability and compactness of the instrumentation enable its use in any workspace with a solid desk, light and electricity access which makes this technique very attractive for obtaining preliminary elementary results. While the technique remains limited by spot analyses it does open up an immense array of possibilities for routine characterization or speedy screening of different types of artefacts in any storage or museum context. These important methodological and scientific findings are considered prerequisite steps leading towards and aiding in responsible sampling strategies for further analyses.