The crystallinity of ancient bone and dentine: new insights by transmission electron microscopy



We studied various archaeological and palaeontological bones and dentines from different burial environments by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT–IR), X–ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), in the framework of a general study of diagenesis. FT–IR and XRD were used to evaluate the global preservation state of the bone and dentine mineral phase by determining a splitting factor (SF) or a crystallinity index (CI), respectively. These data can be combined with studies on the nanometer scale made with TEM. This latter technique,coupled with electron microdiffraction, provides determination of dimensions and shapes of individual bone and dentine apatite nanocrystals as well as of secondary minerals formed during diagenesis. It enables us to distinguish between heat–induced recrystallization processes and crystal growth in solution occurring during diagenesis.