The stable isotopic composition of historical black powder applicable to a Japanese Tanegashima matchlock

C. Mizota, T. Yamanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The objective of the present study is to employ stable isotope ratio measurements (δ15N, δ34S and δ13C) of the nitrogen, sulphur and carbon in black powder (a mixture of saltpetre, native sulphur and charcoal) as a means of source identification. A sum total of 20 samples of historical black powder applicable to matchlocks were collected from six locations throughout Japan. This classic type of hand gun prevailed up to the introduction of the modern rifles, with quicker loading and higher efficiency, in the mid-to-late 19th century. δ13Ccharcoal carbon values showed the predominant use of C3 plants as a source material. Except for a few unusual samples with a probable exotic origin, δ15Nsaltpetre nitrogen values were largely consistent with those of domestic products using classical biotechnology. The isotopic analysis for native sulphur (δ34Snative sulphur) indicates a complicated marketing route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1103
Number of pages9
JournalArchaeometry
Volume57
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015

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biotechnology
Values
marketing
Japan
efficiency
Sulfur
Carbon
Nitrogen
Source Material
Charcoal
Marketing
Route
Biotechnology
Isotopic Analysis
Stable Isotopes

Keywords

  • Native sulphur
  • Propellant
  • Saltpetre
  • Source identification
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History

Cite this

The stable isotopic composition of historical black powder applicable to a Japanese Tanegashima matchlock. / Mizota, C.; Yamanaka, T.

In: Archaeometry, Vol. 57, No. 6, 01.12.2015, p. 1095-1103.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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