Archaeomaterials Laboratory

The Department of Archaeology has dedicated archaeomaterials laboratories where staff and students are able to experimentally recreate cultural materials and carry out scientific analysis of archaeological materials.

Ceramics and Lithics Laboratory

In this laboratory staff and students manufacture and analyse petrographic thin sections. The thin sections are examined using polarising microscopy and it is possible to answer questions about provenance and manufacturing technology. The laboratory houses an extensive geological reference collection and ceramics thin section collections, which are used to gain an understanding of the mineralogical inclusions of archaeological pottery.

With a potters’ wheel, kiln and a range of potters’ tools, it is possible to experiment with pottery forming and firing of experimental vessels. By producing and analysing thin sections of experimental pottery, staff and students gain insights into the methods of manufacture and how to identify them in archaeological material.

Associated with these laboratories are a dedicated microscope laboratory housing research grade microscopes and a furnace room containing low temperature ovens, pottery kilns and high temperature furnaces for manufacturing metals and glasses. Two dedicated preparation laboratories allow preparation of samples for analysis; one houses a dedicated fume cupboard rated for strong acid use.

Thin Section

Glass and Metals Laboratory

The glass and metals laboratories house a range of equipment, including furnaces, low temperature ovens, lapping wheels, and saws. Here staff and students experimentally recreate archaeological glasses and metals, and can then prepare analytical samples of both archaeological and experimental materials.

Samples are analysed in-house using a range of reflected and transmitted light microscopes, and through analytical equipment such as Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM) housed nearby. The analysis allows for the manufacturing technologies employed by past societies to be investigated.