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We ask that you confirm directly with us before sending artifacts for analysis to verify that we can accept packages at our mailing address. We send out our best wishes to all and hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy. If something changes in our ability to receive packages we will post an ate here. This website describes our services and provides methodological and source information that supplements and supports our contract investigations and research interests. Click here for a summary of our XRF services. Interested in our company logo?

A hydration rate is determined for every artifact through a measurement of the amount of intrinsic water that is present.

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This is done by either a direct infrared spectroscopic measurement of the volcanic glass, or by a determination of the volcanic glass density made by submersion in a heavy liquid. Once the quantity of water is known a hydration rate is estimated. A small sample is cut out perpendicular to the edge of the obsidian artifact using a diamond-impregnated saw.

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A lapidary machine is used to grind down the obsidian sample until it is very thin. It is glued to a clear microscope slide with Canada balsam. The obsidian sample is ground a second time until it less than 50 microns in thickness. A microscope is then used to optically measure the hydration rind on the petrographic thin section. The hydration layer is measured at x using a Watson image-splitting instrument.

Obsidian Hydration - An Inexpensive, but Problematic Dating Technique

This is the most precise optical instrument that can be used. It has an error factor of about 0. In order to adjust the experimental hydration rate to the conditions at the archaeological site, the soil temperature and soil relative humidity need to be well estimated. On short term projects, ambient conditions can be estimated from weather records.

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For studies that take longer than a year, thermal cells can be buried at the archaeological site. The small capsules are placed at multiple depths that typically span a depth range of 5 cm to cm below ground surface. About 8 cells are required to establish a temperature and relative humidity curve for the site.

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With this background work done, the environmental conditions can be determined for any context at a site. The Limitations of Obsidian Hydration Dating Using this technique, any sample of obsidian can be dated.

Obsidian hydration dating

There are several limitations, however. The Diffusion Laboratory. International Association for Obsidian Studies. Freter, AnnCorinne. Ancient Mesoamerica 4 2 Friedman, Irving and F. Obsidian Hydration Dating ate.

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American Antiquity 48 3 Friedman, Irving Fred W. To measure the hydration band, a small slice of material is typically cut from an artifact.

This sample is ground down to about 30 micrometers thick and mounted on a petrographic slide this is called a thin section.

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The hydration rind is then measured under a high-power microscope outfitted with some method for measuring distance, typically in tenths of micrometers. The technician measures the microscopic amount of water absorbed on freshly broken surfaces.

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The principle behind obsidian hydration dating is simple-the longer the artifact surface has been exposed, the thicker the hydration band will be. In case of measuring the hydration rim using the depth profiling ability of the secondary ion mass spectrometry technique, the sample is mounted on a holder without any preparation or cutting. This method of measurement is non-destructive. There are two general SIMS modes: static mode and dynamic mode, depending on the primary ion current density, and three different types of mass spectrometers: magnetic sector, quadrupole and time-of-flight TOF.

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Any mass-spectrometer can work in static mode very low ion current, a top mono-atomic layer analysisand dynamic mode a high ion current density, in-depth analysis.

SIMS in general refers to four instrumental categories according to their operation; static, dynamic, quadrupole, and time-of-flight, TOF. In essence it is a technique with a large resolution on a plethora of chemical elements and molecular structures in an essentially non destructive manner.

Obsidian-hydration-rind dating, method of age determination of obsidian (black volcanic glass) that makes use of the fact that obsidian freshly exposed to the atmosphere will take up water to form a hydrated surface layer with a density and refractive index different from that of . Obsidian hydration dating is rapidly growing in importance as an aid to archaeologists concerned with establishing reliable chronological control over the prehistoric cultural remains which they uncover. First developed in the late s by Irving Friedman and Robert L. Smith [1] the technique was slow to be by: Obsidian hydration dating is based on the fact that a fresh surface is created on a piece of obsidian in the tool manufacturing, or flintknapping, process. Obsidian contains about percent water. When a piece of obsidian is fractured, atmospheric water is attracted to the surface and begins to diffuse into the glass.

An approach to OHD with a completely new rationale suggests that refinement of the technique is possible in a manner which improves both its accuracy and precision and potentially expands the utility by generating reliable chronological data. Anovitz et al. A test of the model followed using results from Mount 65, Chalco in Mexico by Riciputi et al. In Rhodes, Greece, under the direction and invention of Ioannis Liritzis, [11] the dating approach is based on modeling the S-like hydrogen profile by SIMS, following Fick's diffusion law, and an understanding of the surface saturation layer see Figure.

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In fact, the saturation layer on the surface forms up to a certain depth depending on factors that include the kinetics of the diffusion mechanism for the water molecules, the specific chemical structure of obsidian, as well as the external conditions affecting diffusion temperature, relative humidity, and pressure. This latest advance, the novel secondary ion mass spectrometry-surface saturation SIMS-SSthus, involves modelling the hydrogen concentration profile of the surface versus depth, whereas the age determination is reached via equations describing the diffusion process, while topographical effects have been confirmed and monitored through atomic force microscopy.

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Several factors complicate simple correlation of obsidian hydration band thickness with absolute age. Temperature is known to speed up the hydration process.

The principle behind obsidian hydration dating is simple-the longer the artifact surface has been exposed, the thicker the hydration band will be. Obsidian hydration can indicate an artifact's age if the datable surfaces tested are only those exposed by flintknapping.

Thus, artifacts exposed to higher temperatures, for example by being at lower elevationseem to hydrate faster. As well, obsidian chemistry, including the intrinsic water content, seems to affect the rate of hydration. Once an archeologist can control for the geochemical signature of the obsidian e.

Water vapor pressure may also affect the rate of obsidian hydration. The first step concerns the calculation of a 3rd order fitting polynomial of the SIMS profile eq.

A note about our services during the COVID pandemic As of April 18, , Northwest Research Obsidian Studies Laboratory is still in operation during the COVID pandemic. We ask that you confirm directly with us before sending artifacts for analysis to verify that we can accept packages at our mailing address. We send out our best wishes to all and hope that you . The Limitations of Obsidian Hydration Dating Obsidian Hydration Dating from ANTHRO 2AC at University of California, Berkeley. Obsidian hydration dating (or OHD) is a scientific dating technique, which uses the understanding of the geochemical nature of the volcanic glass (a silicate) called obsidian to provide both relative and absolute dates on artifacts. Obsidian outcrops all over the world, and was preferentially used by stone tool makers because it is very easy to work with, it is very sharp when broken, and it.

Interested in our company logo? Read more about it. Looking for Hydration Services? Our former obsidian hydration laboratory is now operating independently as Willamette Analytics. Jennifer Thatcher, the longtime experienced hydration analyst at Northwest Research, remains at the helm.

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