I’ve been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to use the Phillips 2400 wavelength dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (WD-XRF) at the Earth Sciences Department in Fribourg, Switzerland. Consequently I’ve been extremely quiet here, as I’ve been in the labs non-stop for the last few months preparing my samples.

Here at the Institute we prepare our samples for analysis by crushing them and pressing the resulting powder into a homogeneous pellet. Considering I have more than two hundred samples of archaeological iron slag, ore and ceramic this took a considerable amount of time! Thankfully the analysis work in Switzerland went very smoothly, and the results from the pellets of certified reference materials suggest that the WD-XRF and the associated analytical software should provide me with an accurate analysis of the chemical composition of my samples.

Whilst I still have microscopy and some targeted analysis to undertake, I now have a really substantial dataset to start investigating which is looking very exciting, much more than the actual process of analysis itself! After all the hundreds of hours spent crushing, grinding, milling and pressing the samples I spent just four days putting them through the WD-XRF, which for most of the time is a large, noisy, motionless grey box. Hopefully I will be able to get back to writing in the near future, but in the mean time here is a video of the only exciting thing that happened during the analytical process; the automated sample changer swapping out samples!

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