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Participant name: Paulus
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University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)
Susanne Paulus (Project Director: June 2018 to August 2022)
Far from Home: Exploring the application of non-destructive XRF clay analysis for the provenience study of cuneiform tablets

A study of the applicability of geochemical clay analyses, including portable energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), for establishing the provenance of cuneiform tablets held by the Oriental Institute (OI) of the University of Chicago.

Unprovenanced clay tablets with cuneiform writing from the Near East present a legal, ethical, and scholarly challenge for cultural heritage preservation, museum collections, and scholars. The goal of this project is to prove that chemical clay analysis employing X-ray fluorescence and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy is a viable method to determine the provenance of those antique objects.

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Project fields:
Archaeology; Near and Middle Eastern History

Research and Development

Preservation and Access

$70,363 (approved)
$42,339 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2021