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Current Research

My recent research efforts have focused on analysis of Mixteca polychrome ceramics, Mayan Jaina polychrome figurines, and West Mexican ceramic vessels. The work is focused on examining and analyzing materials such as clays, slips and pigments, construction techniques, and burial alterations.  Graduate students at UCLA have taken on the study of the Mixteca ceramics and Maya blue pigment on the Jaina figurines as thesis projects under my supervision.  Most of the analysis so far has been non-invasive with equipment such as a portable X-Ray Florescence spectrometer (or pXRF).  The pXRF detects inorganic elements, giving a good baseline indication of the objects' properties.  It's excellent at detecting pigments, but is also being used to analyse trace elements within the clay.  From the initial pXRF results, we can progress to more intensive analysis and examination, using SEM-EDS, Raman, XRD, PLM, x-radiography, and possibly ICP-MS.  We are also using the pXRF to detect heavy metal and halide based pesticides in the Maori cloaks that have been referenced below.  Click on this Field Projects link to see analytical work that was done in Campeche Mexico on the Jaina Figurines through a UC-Mexus grant and recent collaborations with the INAH reginal museum in Tepic, Nayarit.  Presentations on the results have been ongoing and publications are forthcoming with links provided in the Publications and Presentations section of this website.

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