Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA): What is it and how is it useful for archaeological investigation?

Catherine Bland

Department of Archaeology, Flinders University

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Dig It: The Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2014

Print: ISSN 1440-2475
Online: ISSN 2203-1898


Neutron activation analysis (NAA) is a powerful quantitative analytical technique with applications in a range of fields including archaeology. Due to its outstanding sensitivity, accuracy, precision, and versatility the technique is a suitable method for analysing many different types of archaeological material. Archaeologists have utilised neutron activation analysis for the purpose of characterising archaeological materials such as ceramics, lithics and glass with the goal of determining their provenance. This paper provides a brief introduction to the technique and its history in archaeological investigation and provides examples of how NAA has been used for addressing archaeological questions.


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