Laboratory for Artefact Studies

Organisation

Material Culture Studies
Department of Archaeological Sciences
Faculty of Archaeology
Leiden University

Overview of the laboratory with the microscopes and the reference collection of experimentally used tools and objects.

Overview of the laboratory with the microscopes and the reference collection of experimentally used tools and objects.

Main contact

Prof. dr. Annelou van Gijn

Our main research microscope with incident and transmitted light options, DIC, automated Z-stack and Leica –suite image analysis.

Our main research microscope with incident and transmitted light options, DIC, automated Z-stack and Leica –suite image analysis.

Location

Room D1.02, Van Steenis building, Einsteinweg 2, 2333 CC Leiden, Netherlands

Overview of the lab space for experimental archaeology.

Overview of the lab space for experimental archaeology.

Keywords

Microwear, residue analysis, stone tool technology, experimental archaeology

Students in Caribbean archaeology at work making stone ornaments in order to better understand the operational sequence of their production and the toolkit involved.

Students in Caribbean archaeology at work making stone ornaments in order to better understand the operational sequence of their production and the toolkit involved.

Object biographies

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.

Polish on an experimental tool used to plane fresh reeds (Phragmites).

Polish on an experimental tool used to plane fresh reeds (Phragmites).

Microwear analysis

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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.


Residue study

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.

Phytolith on a grinding stone from the site of Swifterbant.

Phytolith on a grinding stone from the site of Swifterbant.

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.

Availability

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.  

Last Modified: 05-01-2016