Open Access

Preliminary dielectric and rock magnetic results for a set of prehistoric Amerindian pottery samples from different Venezuelan Islands

Earth, Planets and Space200658:BF03352638

Received: 16 November 2005

Accepted: 3 February 2006

Published: 8 November 2006


Potsherds from 7 Venezuelan islands have been studied using a two-fold magneto/dielectric technique in order to identify clay sources and characterize different stages of pottery craftsmanship. This is the first study of archeological material using this technique. Petrographic analyses appear to agree with the clusters of data identified in scatter plots of initial magnetic susceptibility versus saturation isothermal remanent magnetization (SIRM), and natural remanent magnetization (NRM). Thus, these magnetic parameters appear to be suitable for describing clay source characteristics. Effective magnetic grain sizes, investigated via stability analyses of SIRM and anystheretic remanent magnetization (ARM) upon alternating field (AF) demagnetization, and SIRM acquisition and AF demagnetization crossover plots, seem to be related to different steps of pottery craftsmanship, namely clay preparation, finishing and firing. Thermomagnetic curves might also provide valuable information about original firing conditions. A scatter plot of SIRMs intersections versus maximum current depolarization temperatures and average activation energies, shows a coarse correlation due perhaps to the fact that these rock magnetic and dielectric data are both associated to pore-related features.

Key words

Archaeologypotterydielectric propertiesrock magnetismprovenance studies