FTIR Microscopy Facility

Directors: Prof. Paul Goldberg, Dr. Francesco Berna

Room STO251 247A
Tel. 617-358-1666; 614-840-1378
Email: ; paulberg@bu.edu; fberna@bu.edu


Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry (FTIR) is a very versatile and robust analytical technique increasingly used in archaeology for the characterization of artifacts and resolving issues such as mineralogy, sedimentology and diagenesis, and ancient pyrotechnology. The FTIR microscopy laboratory at BU is a unique facility that specializes on the in situ analysis of petrographic thin sections of sediments, soils, materials, and ecofacts.




Spectrometer: Nicolet Nexus 470

FT-IR microscope: Spectra-Tech Continuμm equipped with MCTA and MCTB detectors and the following IR objectives: Spectra Tech Infinity Reflachromat 15X and Thermo Electron Infinity ATR with diamond crystal.

Sampling devices

  1. Micro sampling: Thermo-Fisher microcompression diamond cell
  2. ATR accessory: Thermo-Fisher Smart Orbit
  3. KBr Pellet preparation: Spectra-Tech Qwick Handi-Press


Surface preparation: Buehler Echomet Automet 250 polisher/grinder



Principal Archaeological Application

Identification of materials

Mineralogy, stratigraphy and site formation processes (e.g., diagenesis)

Reconstruction of prehistoric and ancient pyrotechnologies

State of preservation of bone and charcoal for dating and isotope analysis





2000, NSF BCS-0083555: "Purchase of an FTIR Microscope for Analysis of Art, Archaological, and Geological Materials"
2006, NSF BCS-0551927: "Paleolithic Pyrotechnology, High Resolution Behavioral Events, and the Neanderthal/modern Human Question"
2009, NSF BCS- 0917739: "Improvements to Soil Micromorphology Laboratory"




  • Goldberg, P. and Berna, F., (2010). Micromorphology and context, Quaternary International 214, 56–62.
  • Dibble HL, Berna F, Goldberg P, McPherron SP, Mentzer S, Niven L, Richter D, Sandgathe D, Théry-Parisot I, and Turq A., (2009) A Preliminary Report on Pech de l'Azé IV, Layer 8 (Middle Paleolithic, France), PaleoAnthropology 2009:182-219.
  • Goldberg P., Berna F., Macphail R. (2009) Comment on "DNA from Pre-Clovis Human Coprolites in Oregon, North America" Science 325: 148c.
  • Goldberg P., Miller C., Shiegl S., Ligouis B., Berna F., Conard N.J., Wadley L. (2009) Bedding, hearths, and site maintenance in the Middle Stone Age of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, Archaeol. Anthropol. Sci.1 (2): 95-122.
  • Borojevic K., Forenbaher S., Kaiser T., Berna F. (2008) Plant use at Grapceva Spilja on the island of Hvar Kroatia, Journal of Field Archaeology 33 (3): 279-303.
  • Toffolo M., Berna F. (2008): Analisi micromorfologica, FTIR e XRD. In: Gelichi S., Piuzzi F., Cianciosi A. (eds), “Sachuidic presso Forni Superiore”. Ricerche archeologiche in un castello della Carnia, Edizioni all’Insegna del Giglio, Firenze, 50-55.
  • Berna F., Goldberg P. (2007) Assessing Paleolithic pyrotechnology and associated hominin behavior in Israel, Israel Journal of Earth Science 56: 107-121.d



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Paul Goldberg - Boston University - 02/21/2010