Ruth Ann Armitage
- Professor, Department of Chemistry (Eastern Michigan University)
- Analysis of cultural heritage materials
- Radiocarbon dating of rock paintings and fragile artifacts with plasma-chemical oxidation sample preparation
- Characterization of dye colorants in ancient Peruvian textiles (Wari/Huari and Paracas)
- Developing methods for screening archaeological ceramics for residues by DART-MS
- Radiocarbon dating of Central American rock art
As a chemist, my primary research interests are in applying analytical methods to archaeological materials to help archaeologists answer questions about human behavior in the past. My group has two primary focus areas: using plasma-chemical oxidation (PCO) to prepare small or fragile artifacts and rock paintings for AMS radiocarbon dating, and chemical characterization of organic compounds in rock art, textiles, and ceramic residues. With the PCO sample preparation method, we can reliably radiocarbon date as little as 50 µg of carbon by AMS, making dating of small samples – like those from rock paintings – possible. We use many different analytical methods, including infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and direct analysis in real time – time of flight – mass spectrometry (DART-ToF-MS) to identify organic binding media, dyes, food residues, and contaminants in archaeological and museum materials. We collaborate extensively with archaeologists from around the world, and with the Conservation Department at the Detroit Institute of Arts.