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Nov. 27, 2001

Brookhaven Lab Scientist Wins 2002 Pomerance Award For Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

UPTON, NY — Garman Harbottle, a senior chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been named the 2002 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology. The award is one of the two highest honors the Institute confers. Harbottle will receive the Pomerance medal at the Institute’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 4.

Harbottle’s international reputation as an expert in dating and authenticating historically important items was built during his long career at Brookhaven Lab, with much of his work having been supported by the Department of Energy.

Harbottle said, “It’s exciting to follow my interests in nuclear chemistry and in archaeology and art history, and it’s particularly rewarding to solve archeological puzzles using scientific methods. Brookhaven has been a wonderful place to pursue interdisciplinary research.”

Using a carbon dating method that was largely made possible by a revolutionary small-scale gas counter developed in the late 1970s by Harbottle and two now retired Brookhaven Lab scientists, Edward Sayre, a 1999 Pomerance Award recipient; and Raymond Stoenner, Harbottle has dated numerous and varied historically significant items. For example, he has dated a lump of 12th century nonindigenous raw iron found in 1860 in the Canadian Arctic. Other research traced out pre-Columbian trade routes in turquoise used in transporting the raw material for Mesoamerican religious jewelry from mines in the American Southwest to markets in central Mexico, and identified the geographical origins of celebrated limestone sculptures created in France during the ninth through fifteenth centuries. This Brookhaven Limestone Database Project is now affiliated with more than 33 museums in the U.S., France and Great Britain.

In the late 1990s, Harbottle was a member of the Jiahu research team in China that uncovered six complete crane-bone flutes of between 7,000 and 9,000 years old, along with 30 other flutes at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, in Henan province, China. Several flutes are playable and may be the earliest playable instruments to be dated and acoustically analyzed.

After earning a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1949, Harbottle joined Brookhaven Lab’s Chemistry Department in the same year. He was a Guggenheim Fellow at Cambridge University, 1957 -1958, and he taught radioisotope procedures at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1959. From 1965 to 1967, he directed the Division of Research and Laboratories at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Harbottle is the recipient of numerous awards, including, with Edward Sayre in 1983, the George Hevesy Medal for outstanding accomplishment in radioanalytical chemistry; the Society for American Archaeology’s Fryxell Medal for interdisciplinary research in 1994; and, in 1995, the American Nuclear Society’s Seaborg Medal, which honors excellence in research that has been especially beneficial to the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Note to local editors: Garman Harbottle is a resident of Setauket, NY.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.