Associate Professor of Chemistry Curt Beck spoke to a meeting at Vassar of some 100 anthropologists from 38 colleges, universities and research centers, members of the Northeast Anthropological Conference.  Dr. Beck demonstrated his innovative method of analyzing ancient amber, a key element in the anthropological tracing of the spread of the Bronze Age.  Prehistoric trade in amber provided evidence of the spread of Bronze Age technology, but the older method of testing the material was not only rather imprecise; it also required significant destruction of the artifact.  Using infrared spectroscopy, Beck—or one of his students—was able to gather far more precise information from two milligrams of amber in 20 minutes than researchers using the older method could produce after hours of work.  He told the conference that he was embarking on a plan to test five or six hundred samples from prehistoric sites in order to fix their origins.