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Keywords:

  • XRF;
  • XRD;
  • celadon;
  • glaze

Abstract

Chinese celadon shards of the Longquan type, believed to date from the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279 AD), were excavated in 1934 on Mapungubwe Hill, a 13th century Iron Age site in the Limpopo valley, South Africa. We studied the shards with Raman spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction (XRD). The Raman polymerization index (Ip), calculated from the spectra of the glaze of the shards, indicated a higher firing temperature than expected for the relatively calcium-rich Longquan glazes of the Southern Song dynasty. XRF analysis of the glaze and XRD measurements of the bulk of the shards supported this view and date the shards to possibly the Yuan (1279–1368 AD) or even early Ming (1368–1644 AD) dynasties. These results have an impact on the chronology of the history of the region and therefore call for further research of a comparative nature of other Chinese celadon shards excavated on archaeological sites in Africa, in addition to additional carbon dates of Mapungubwe hill. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.