USC, Argonne National Lab collaborate on study of ancient artefacts

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USC's first pilgrims to a temple of high-energy physics will be seeking answers to worldly questions about ancient commerce.

Archaeologist Lynn Swartz Dodd of USC College and her students are taking trade artefacts from Egypt to the Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source, home of the most powerful X-rays in the country.

The group may be the first from USC to secure precious 'beam time' at the celebrated particle accelerator, according to Gene Bickers, vice provost for undergraduate programs. The researchers will spend a week in July at the sprawling complex near Chicago.

By peering past the corroded metal on the artefacts' surfaces and deep into their cores, Dodd and her team hope to discover the makeup and structure of the finds, which range from a series of bronze axes and swords to exquisitely forged miniature bronze-gold figurines of unknown age.

The answers may help tell the story of ancient Mediterranean trading life, which largely revolved around palatial centres.

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