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By Earle R. Caley

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Even for somewhat larger proportions the accuracy is not good. Furthermore, because of interference or insensitivity to neutron bombardment, various metals that may be present as impurities can not be detected. These include iron, which is a common impurity, and also platinum and nickel, which are sometimes present. The sensitivity of the method for silver is high, as little as 1 ppm being detectable. Unfortunately, very low proportions can be determined only by waiting as long as 50 days for the activity of the gold to decay to the point where the activity of the silver can be measured.

This also limits object size because the usual neutron generators are designed to treat small objects only, Furthermore, satisfactory results are obtained only on objects of simple geometric shape. For these two reasons, coins are the only metal objects that give satisfactory quantitative analyses using this method. Some metals, such as lead, cannot be determined at all because of their insensitivity to neutron bombardment, and others cannot be estimated because they emit only beta-rays after such bombardment.

Its chief advantage lies in the possibility of determining traces of metals below the range possible or convenient by chemical analysis. A combination of chemical analysis for the major and minor components with spectrography for the determination of the trace metals is the best general procedure for the accurate quantitative analysis of samples of ancient metals and alloys. R E F E R E N C E S The publications listed below contain general information on the utility of some of the above methods for the examination of ancient metals and alloys, and also some specific information on procedures and techniques.

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