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Unidentified Beige Material

Report: Beige Concretion

This is the item discussed in this section:

Beige stuff

Unknown beige concretion


PDFs of the full reports are linked in at the bottom of this page.


From Report 71:

FTIR analysis of the beige concretion revealed that it is predominately composed of calcium carbonate/chalk/calcite although a small amount of hydrocarbon impurity is also present. The micro-tubule nature of the concretion and its composition suggest that it is some form of marine life shell or exoskeleton. Typically these are composed of another form of calcium carbonate (aragonite), but pseudomorphic transformations between calcite and aragonite forms of calcium carbonate do occur. Calcite is typically of terrestrial origin while aragonite is the calcium carbonate that forms corals and shells, and so the possibility that this is an exoskeleton of a terrestrial organism cannot be ruled out.

Case spectrum

Results and Conclusions

The beige concretion is composed of microtubules of calcite, a form of calcium carbonate typically associated with terrestrial organisms, but the concretion could have been formed from a marine organism exoskeleton and then undergone a pseudomorphic change to calcite.



We don’t yet know exactly what this is, but it seems safe to say it is not of human origin.

Object Descriptions and Reason for Analysis

• OBJECT DESCRIPTION (form, material, color, etc): The object submitted for analysis is archaeological material excavated from the Republic of Kiribati. It is an unknown beige concretion.

• REASON FOR ANALYSIS: Could this object have an early twentieth-century American provenance? Could it have been manufactured prior to 7/2/37? What is the beige concretion and does it have any relevance to anthropogenic activity at the site?

• SAMPLING: All samples for chemical analysis were transferred to glass containers to prevent contamination prior to analysis. All other analyses were performed nondestructively.

• ANALYSIS PROTOCOL: Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to identify the molecular composition of the beige object.

Click HERE for a PDF of Report 71. (2.1 MB)
Click HERE for a PDF of Report 88. (2.2 MB)

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