Laboratory for Artefact Studies
Material Culture Studies
Department of Archaeological Sciences
Faculty of Archaeology
Room D1.02, Van Steenis building, Einsteinweg 2, 2333 CC Leiden, Netherlands
Microwear, residue analysis, stone tool technology, experimental archaeology
The primary research objective of the Laboratory is the study of object biographies. Facilities are thus aimed at studying the various stages of such biographies: from raw material selection, to object manufacture to object use and abandonment. For provenience studies the laboratory has an extensive geological reference collection of flint and other stone types and can make use of a portable XRF.
A key expertise is microwear and residue analysis of artefacts made of knapped and ground stone, bone, antler, shell, coral and pottery.The lab thus has one of the largest collections of experimentally used tools in the world. Over 3000 implements and objects, made on a variety of raw materials and used for a range of activities shed light on the interconnectivity of different tools and tasks. Microscopic study makes it possible to detect traces of use and treatment like edge damage, striations and polish, features which vary in appearance according to the material the object comes into contact with.
For residue analysis the laboratory has phytolith extractions of processed modern plants from both temperate and tropical areas, as well as a small reference collection of modern starch grains.
The laboratory has all the equipment and facilities necessary to conduct microwear and residue analysis: incident light microscopy (including two with a free arm, suitable for studying large objects like querns and stone axes), transmitted light microscopes, several types of stereomicroscopes and cameras.
The laboratory is available to students and researchers from across the world who would like to consult the experimental reference collections.
Commercial enterprises who want to make use of the expertise and facilities are referred to LAB, the commercial unit responsible for specialised laboratory work.