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Sensitivity, Precision, and Accuracy: Their Roles in Ceramic Compositional Data Bases

  • Ronald L. Bishop (a1), Veletta Canouts (a2), Patricia L. Crown (a3) and Suzanne P. de Atley (a4)

Differences in analytical sensitivity, precision, and accuracy exist among techniques and laboratories involved in the chemical analysis of archaeological ceramics. Large differences in these analytical parameters become significant in the formulation of data bases where comparability of the data is being sought. Small differences become significant when comparing pottery produced from clay resources located within a discrete geological environment. To better assess and report on the analytical results being obtained from laboratories, neutron-activation analysis and X-ray fluorescence are discussed relative to the level of precision required for ceramic characterization studies, the use of standards, and the preparation and submission of samples for commercial laboratory analysis.


Las diferencias en sensibilidad analítica, precisión, y exactitud que existen entre distintos laboratorios y las técnicas que estos emplean en el análisis químico de muestras de cerámica arqueológica producen grandes diferencias en parámetros analíticos. Estas diferencias vienen a ser significativamente importantes en la formulatión de bancos de datos para lo cual se busca compatibilidad en los datos. Así mismo, pequeñas diferencias vienen a ser significativas cuando se compara cerámica producida con fuentes de arcilla localizadas en una determinada area geológica. Para una mejor evaluatión y reporte sobre los resultados analíticos obtenidos de los laboratorios, análisis de activatión neutrónica y fluorescencia de rayos X son discutidos en relatión con el nivel de precisión requerido para la caracterización de estudios cerámicos, el uso de standards, y preparatión y presentatión de muestras para análisis comercial en el laboratorio.

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