Using trace and bulk chemical analysis on archaeological soils and sediments is not new; phosphate analysis has been used for decades to delimit archaeological sites and aide the interpretation of settlement space.
Technology opened up opportunities to use multi-elemental techniques in more recent years, however this has had limited application, often in part due to the time and cost required. The use of portable XRF can potentially change this, as a cheaper and more rapid instrumental method.
This presentation will consider the potential of the method, including the various scales and sampling methods that can be employed. The limitations and potential of the method will be discussed using the case studies of Avaldsnes and Gokstad. The starting point for the presentation is soils as an important source in archaeology, to how geochemistry using portable XRF can be used to help our understanding of settlement space, and the potential challenges to be overcome.