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The 'round robin' experiment
In November 2003, twenty-five new, unglazed ceramic vessels (tagen) were purchased in Luxor (Egypt). The same number of fresh and processed food stuffs were bought in Cairo. Among these were wheat, eggs, veal and fava beans but also dates, coffee, sorghum and goat milk. About 200 g. of each was put in its own tagen, covered with mineral water and allowed to sit for 24 hours.
A number identifying the contents had been engraved on the outside of each vessel and all were wrapped in aluminum foil to prevent leakage and contamination. The next day, the vessels and their contents were put in an oven and boiled for about one hour. After they had cooled down, water was added where necessary and all vessels were cooked for another hour.
The vessels were left untouched for another 24 hours. They were then unwrapped, cleaned with cold water and stored. In January 2004, all vessels except one were crushed to enable the analysis of the organic residue and comparison with those found in ancient vessels. The last whole tagen was machine-cut into twelve pieces in May 2004.
These were distributed among several laboratories. The purpose of this exercise is not to find the residue in the sherd but to learn how the same (simulated) artifact can be approached, what the results of such an approach might be and to provide fuel for the discussion about archaeological residue analysis that will take place in Salt Lake City, in April 2005.
Hans Barnard (UCLA) and Jelmer Eerkens (UC Davis)
c/o PO-box 951511; Los Angeles, CA 90095
Your suggestions, additions, comments and corrections are welcome and your participation even more so.
Round robin Results Abstracts Home

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