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PROVENANCE OF ANCIENT TEXTILES—A PILOT STUDY EVALUATING THE STRONTIUM ISOTOPE SYSTEM IN WOOL*

Authors

  • K. M. FREI,

    1. Center for Textile Research, CTR, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
    2. SAXO Institute, Archaeology Department, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • R. FREI,

    1. Institute of Geography and Geology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
    2. Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, NordCEE, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • U. MANNERING,

    1. Center for Textile Research, CTR, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • M. GLEBA,

    1. Center for Textile Research, CTR, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • M. L. NOSCH,

    1. Center for Textile Research, CTR, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • H. LYNGSTRØM

    1. SAXO Institute, Archaeology Department, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 80, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
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Abstract

Strontium isotopes are used in archaeology to reconstruct human and animal migration routes. We present results of a pilot study applying strontium isotope analyses to modern sheep hair as a basis for its potential use as a provenance tracer for ancient woollen textiles. Our hydrofluoric acid-based, lipid soluble analytical protocol, also tested on a number of ancient textile fibres, allows for contamination-free, low blank strontium isotope analysis of minimal amounts of archaeological material. 87Sr/86Sr ratios of decontaminated sheep hair agree well with the compositions of biologically available (soluble) strontium fractions from the respective feeding ground soils, a translatable requirement for any potentially successful provenance tracing applied to wool textiles.

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