Sample Submission

Submitting Samples to the Archaeometry Laboratory

[Obsidian core and artifacts]Customers interested in submitting samples for NAA, XRF, or ICP-MS are strongly encouraged to contact the laboratory during the earliest stages of their planned project. Providing us with the following information will ensure that your project is completed quickly and efficiently:

We will also provide you with a range of sample-identification numbers (analytical IDs, or ANIDs) unique to your project. Once you have informed us of your intent to submit samples, please ensure that you comply with the following instructions on how to prepare, package, and submit your samples to the Archaeometry Laboratory.

Special instructions are necessary if you are submitting soil or clay samples, or if the only way you can obtain samples is by drilling them from an artifact. Note that drilling increases the potential for contamination, and that providing an artifact in solid form is preferrable in all instances.

As a general guideline, for the listed sample types we recommend submitting the following minimum amounts:

Table 1. Minimum sample sizes necessary to analyze archaeological and source samples at MURR.

Sample Type

Recommended Minimum Size




2-g potsherd with typically 3—4 cm2 of sample area is highly recommended. A sherd with 1 cm2 sample area (no less than 50 mg) is the minimum acceptable size. (MURR will retain a small portion for our archives.)


A 500 mg fragment is recommended. However, samples as small as 5—10 mg have been analyzed in the past. (We use a trim saw on artifacts to minimize damage to the artifact.)


1-g fragment is recommended.  200 mg is the minimum acceptable size. (A diamond saw can be used to remove fragments.)


1 or 2 g of rock, preferably powdered in advance. Be careful, many grinding procedures will contaminate the sample with iron, cobalt, tantalum, etc. (We will grind for you if necessary for an extra fee.)

Terra-cotta Statuary

250 mg of clean powder obtained by drilling is recommended. Minimum amount is 100 mg.
A tungsten-carbide drill bill creates the least sample contamination. We recommend either 3/32-inch or 1/8-inch drill bits or equivalent of the type sold by Jarvis Cutting Tools from Rochester, New Hampshire. [1-800-258-7162].



Source Materials



50 g dry weight with plant roots and insects removed. (The sample will be fired at 700°C before making into powder.)


50 g dry weight with plant roots and insects removed. (Please send clean and dry tempering materials.)

Obsidian & Chert

Half-fist to full-fist sized specimens are ideal. (Analytical sample is taken from crushed interior fragments.)

Research performed by the Archaeometry Laboratory at MURR after August 2016 is supported by the National Science Foundation under our current grant number 1621158. Earlier research was supported by several NSF grants including the following: 1415403, 1110793, 8801707, 9102016, 9503035, 9802366, 9977237, 0102325, 0405042, 0504015, 0802757, 0922374, and 0802757. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Last Updated on June 2, 2017
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