Archaeometry of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Inorganic Artefacts, Materials and their Technologies

Béla TÖRÖK
President
Alessandra GIUMLIA-MAIR
Secretary
Maria Pia RICCARDI
Treasurer

The commission aims to discuss and transmit the archaeometric approaches to technologies in prehistory and protohistory concerning lithic technology, metallurgy, ceramics and glass making; gathering and organizing the results, conclusions and circumstances of archaeometric case studies of artefacts; paying particular attention to production, procurement and characterization of raw materials, and fabrication technologies; discussing relevant interdisciplinary research methods and techniques.

The commission provides a platform for scholarly discussion aimed at furthering the dissemination of new approaches and discoveries, and at promoting best practice in archaeometric research on metallurgy, glass making, lithic and ceramic technologies in prehistory and protohistory. 

Archaeometry commission diagram

One of our chief objectives is opening up access to analytical data, results and conclusions from the broadest possible range of archaeometric projects and case studies relating to prehistoric and protohistoric artefacts made from metal, ceramic, glass and stone, with a particular focus on the characterization of raw materials and on manufacturing technologies. By making relevant data accessible to the wider scientific community and formulating standards for scientific databases, we wish to promote the integration between archaeometric research and other archaeological approaches. 

We also strive to formulate standards for the publication of archaeological scientific data, chemical standards and material structures, and to create protocols for the archiving and dissemination of existing or “legacy” datasets, which would otherwise be vulnerable to being lost or overlooked. By discussing relevant interdisciplinary research methods and techniques, we also wish to promote work across academic disciplines and to investigate the relationships and overlaps between ancient technologies. 

We organize a commission meeting once a year and hold dedicated sessions on the occasion of the triennial UISSP Word Congress.

Research and publications

An infographic detailing aspects of archaeometry.

Cretan metallurgy in Prehistory

Analysis of Minoan gold items from Petras, metallurgical analyses of the Minoan copper-based finds from Mochlos, metallurgical analyses of the items from the Inatos Cave, dedicated to the goddess Eileithyia.

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4-year project on Roman illumination

Metallurgical analyses of lamps, candelabers, authepsa, decorative illumination items, such as statuettes and supports of various kinds. The aim of the project is the reconstruction of the illumination inside Roman houses.

A group of people stand in front of a hedge in the countryside.

Metal and Amber II

Circulation of bronze and amber in the Iberian South-East during the Bronze Age: The project objectives (chronological resolution, sourcing of raw materials, valuation, social use) requires a specific methodology that involves the use of a wide variety of analytical techniques from other disciplines such as geology or organic chemistry, which makes this project inherently interdisciplinary.

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The land of Tartessos in the light of laboratory ceramics studies

The aim is to broaden our knowledge on ceramic production and use in the south-western part of the Iberian Peninsula from the Late Bronze Age until the collapse of Tartessos. The project is characterized by a multidisciplinary approach; archaeological techniques and also chemical and geological methods are employed.

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Synchrotron application in archaeological material characterization

In this framework, three projects have been accepted: 1. On the trace of Iranian arsenical bronze metallurgy, provenance and mixing. 2. Synchrotron X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) for chemistry and characterization of early glasses from the 2nd millennium B.C. in Iran. 3. SR-FTIR light through 7000 year-old pigments on ceramic surfaces.

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Emergence of arsenic-copper metallurgy in south-eastern Iran and eastern Anatolia

Interpreting ancient metal technology and metal routes through a multi-analytical approach. This project looks at the social impact of technology in prehistoric Anatolia and Iran by using metal technology as a case study. We aim to establish a linkage between Anatolian and Iranian prehistoric metallurgy and to examine the emergence of arsenical coppers in both regions through a multi-analytical approach.

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Geochemical research projects

Analysis of Middle and Late Neolithic fluorite objects from Belgium and France, sourcing of obsidian from the Middle Woodland period Hopewell site in Ohio (USA), geochemical analysis of environmental cores from the north coast of Papua New Guinea, and PXRF chemical analysis of ceramics from New Guinean archaeological sites.

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The Central Timna Valley Project: Provenancing metal artefacts

The role of Timna and the Arabah Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nabataean period. Diffraction stack imaging as a potential tool for detecting underground voids: The case of the ancient Timna copper mines. New insights on metallurgical practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant from a recently discovered copper-smelting workshop.

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Iron blooms and slags from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Medieval period in the Carpathian Basin

Chemical and mineralogical analyses and metallographic examinations of the related finds. Technological circumstances of the bloomery process, types and metallurgical roles of the slags.

Publications

Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica - Natural Sciences in Archaeology Vol. 13, Issue 2, 2022

Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica - Special Issue: Archaeometry of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Stone, Metal, Ceramics and Glass

Török, B. (ed.) 2022. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica – Natural Sciences in Archaeology 13 (2). Special Issue: Archaeometry of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Stone, Metal, Ceramics and Glass. Proceedings of the XIX UISPP World Congress (2–7 September 2021, Meknes, Morocco), Session 8-B.

News

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Members

Dirk BRANDHERM
Queen's University Belfast (United Kingdom)
Alessandra GIUMLIA-MAIR
AGM Archeoanalisi (Italy)
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Jiří HOŠEK
Archeologický ústav Akademie věd České republiky (Czechia)
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Michał KRUEGER
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu (Poland)
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Ignacio MONTERO RUIZ
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain)
Maria Pia RICCARDI
Università degli Studi di Pavia (Italy)
Béla TÖRÖK
Miskolci Egyetem (Hungary)