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Analytical Chemistry

Artifact Revealed With X-Ray Scan

by Marc S. Reisch
August 24, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 33

Archaeologists digging at a churchyard dating to 1608 in Jamestown, Va., one of the first English settlements in the Americas, recently discovered a silver box buried along with one of the colony’s leaders. Micro Photonics, a distributor of Bruker’s X-ray micro-computed-tomography instruments, used the SkyScan 1173 to see inside the box and identify bone fragments and a container for holy water. Identifying the contents without damaging the fragile artifact allowed historians to determine the silver box was a reliquary, suggesting that one of the Anglican colony’s founders may have secretly been a Catholic.

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Credit: Micro Photonics
Micro-CT scan of the 2- by 5-inch reliquary found in Jamestown, Va.
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Credit: Micro Photonics
Micro-CT scan of the 2- by 5-inch reliquary found in Jamestown, Va.
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