The provenancing of prehistoric amber using attenuated total reflection – Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)

Summary of the project

The objective of this postgraduate is to use Attenuated Total Reflectance-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) to provenance prehistoric amber. It is hoped to integrate the results with wider European evidence for the source of origin of prehistoric origin with the aim of informing our understanding of trade and communication in prehistoric Europe.

Description of the project

ATR-FTIR will be used to provenance prehistoric amber from archaeological contexts. This is the first time this technique will be applied to archaeological amber in Ireland. The Irish results and data will be linked with laboratory analysis of amber from other parts of North-west Europe and beyond. This will increase and develop the current understanding of prehistoric trade and communication networks between Ireland and Europe, particularly in the Late Bronze Age.

The potential commercial application of this analysis will be assessed, as it is a technique that could be made available to archaeologists in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe on a commercial basis.

Profile of a suitable candidate

The successful candidate should:

-           hold an honours degree in Archaeology or Archaeological Science (at least a 2:1H)

-          have experience in the analysis of amber (archaeological or non-archaeological) using FTIR/ ATR

-          have scientific training in the use of analytical instrumentation

-          have a good knowledge of the role of amber in prehistoric Ireland and Europe

Project supervisors: Dr. Marion Dowd and Maria Keeney