Piga, Giampaolo and Solinas, Maria Giuliana and Thompson, T. J. U. and Brunetti, Antonio and Malgosa, Assumpció and Enzo, Stefano (2013) Is X-ray diffraction able to distinguish between animal and human bones? Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 40 (1), p. 778-785. ISSN 0305-4403. Article.
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The possibility of determining the human or animal origin of bones from the lattice parameters of their inorganic bioapatite phase, when subjected to a high temperature treatment using the powder X-ray diffraction (XRD) technique, has been explored on a wide number of specimens. Forty-two animal bones were treated in a furnace at 1100 °C for 36 min and compared to 53 cremated human bones from a range of ancient necropolises. The X-ray diffraction patterns of bioapatite were simulated using both monoclinic P21/b and hexagonal P63/m structures to verify any occurrence of phase transformation and any difference in the lattice parameters due to the model. It was determined that the differences between the a-axis and c-axis of the monoclinic and hexagonal lattice were unimportant. Some outlying values were revealed to be caused by the presence of chlorine ions diffused into the apatite structure increasing its average unit cell values. Nevertheless, our results clearly show that in terms of lattice parameters the variability of human specimens are completely overlapped by the non-human variability making the use of XRD in order to distinguish animal from human bones questionable.
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