Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health
Due to its enhanced accessibility and visibility, pXRF has recently permeated the field of biological anthropology. The emerging applications have ranged from the detection of heavy metals like Mercury, Lead, and Iron, to the analysis of paleodiets, to the comparisons of trace elements for the purpose of resolving commingling. The purpose of this thesis is to outline the theory, advantages, and realistic limitations of current pXRF equipment and methodologies in the resolution of commingled skeletal remains. The discussion will: (1) introduce the underlying theory of pXRF in the context of the commingling of human remains, (2) summarize and evaluate the past applications of spectrometry to the study of human remains, and (3) outline a collection of successful approaches for future projects as well as research frontiers which are yet unexplored.