Stable Isotope Laboratories

These laboratories facilitate dedicated, state-of-the art stable isotope analysis of archaeological materials like bones, teeth, hair, sediments, soils and water. The laboratories host a ConFlo IV Thermo® Scientific Isotope Mass Ratio Spectrometer (IRMS) coupled with a Thermo Scientific FLASH 2000 HT Elemental Analyzer for organic isotopic analysis, and a Gasbench II connected to a Thermo Scientific DELTA V IRMS for inorganic isotopic analysis. Furthermore, a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MSD) and an Isoprime® Gas Chromatography-Combustion-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (GC-C-irMS) enable analysis of leaf wax single compounds extracted from sediments and soil and organic residues from archaeological ceramics. For sample preparation the stable isotope lab provides all necessary pretreatment equipment such as Sandblasters, freeze driers, as well as a Buchi TLE setup.

We are also equipped for the isotopic analysis of water, Micromill sampling, and Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR-ATR) on our Bruker® VERTEX 70v FTIR Spectrometer. Strontium isotope analysis is carried out as part of a close partnership with the University of Cape Town, meaning that this set of laboratories can coordinate all of the major forms of archaeological stable isotope analysis.

Click here to watch a demonstration of the sampling and pretreatment of tooth enamel for stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis.

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