Neutron Activation Analysis: selected data sets

The Bonn Archaeometry Database

assembled at the Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik, University of Bonn

Hans Mommsen

status 2022

Since around 1983 elemental concentration data of archaeological pottery has been measured by the Archaeometry group at the Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik, University of Bonn, under the guidance of Hans Mommsen and this work still continues. The method used is the Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) that is very well suited for this task, since many elements including trace elements can be obtained with high precision. This precision is most important to distinguish successfully the elemental concentration patterns of different pottery workshops and, hence, to determine provenance.
The NAA measurements are described at length in the publication:

Mommsen, H., Kreuser, A., Lewandowski, E., and Weber, J., 1991, Provenancing of pottery: A status report on Neutron Activation Analysis and Classification, British Museum Occ. Paper 82, Neutron Activation and Plasma Emission Spectrometric Analysis in Archaeology, eds. M. Hughes, M. Cowell und D. Hook, 57 - 65.

The measurement procedure applied at Bonn is a modified version of the procedure used at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory described in the publication:

Perlman, I. and Asaro, F., 1969, Pottery analysis by neutron activation, Archaeometry 11, 21 - 52.

A short history of the Bonn archaeometry laboratory is given in:

Mommsen, H. and B. L. Sjöberg, 2007: The importance of the 'best relative fit factor' when evaluating elemental concentration data of pottery demonstrated with Mycenaean sherds from Sinda, Cyprus, Archaeometry 49, 357 - 369.

reporting also the composition of the Bonn pottery standard that has been calibrated with the Berkeley pottery standard (Perlman and Asaro 1969). Therefore, the concentration data shown here are directly comparable and matchable with the NAA data of Berkeley and of Jerusalem where also the Berkeley standard has been used. The concentration data shown here are assembled in collaboration with many different projects of archaeologists as described in the corresponding publications. They are presented according to the geographic regions of the archaeological sites under investigation. Given is an ASCII txt file in table form for an overview and an ASCII csv file (with delimiter) for download to read in the data for statistical evaluation programs. Please reference the original publications and this website, if you use these data.

Neutron Activation Analysis of archaeological pottery samples - selected data sets HISKP, Uni Bonn

Given are the raw weight concentration data in mg/kg (ppm) or % and the exp. uncertainties for each measured element of each individual sample


[No in publication list] samples from site or type of samples, year of publ.
[ip (in press)]
[nop (not publ.)]
[no- (not publ., samples of the NAA project with Ch. Podzuweit † and J. Maran
funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research 1993)]

Central Greece


Northern Greece (Macedonia, Magnesia, Thessaly)

North of Greece

Greece, islands (incl. Crete)

Eastern Aegaeis and hinterland

Black Sea area


Levant, Israel

Egypt and Africa

Western Mediterranean, Italy, Spain

Mixed Mediterranean (sherd collections)

Northern Europa, Austria

Northern Europa, Belgium, Netherland, Maas region and neighbouring areas

Northern Europa, Germany, Bavaria and neighbouring areas

Northern Europa, Germany, Rhineland, Hesse, and neighbouring areas

Northern Europa, Germany, northern and eastern regions, Saxony and neighbouring areas

Northern Europa, Germany, Lower Saxony, Werra region and neighbouring areas

Northern Europa, Germany, other

Northern Europa, Poland, Sweden, other


foreign data (except Vienna)

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