Research Methods

The laboratory is equipped with stereoscopic and metallographic microscopes with both reflected and transmitted light for wear trace and slide-analysis. One metallographic microscope with a free arm is especially equipped for large objects such as querns and axes.

The Laboratory for Artefact Studies has a large reference collection that is necessary for sound analysis of wear traces and residues. The collection comprises more than 1700 experimentally manufactured tools of various materials, which were and are being used to perform tasks possibly executed in the past. For residue analysis the laboratory has extractions of processed modern plants from both temparate and tropical areas. The data on the experimental and residue collections  are stored in a digital database linked to an image library.

Traces of woodworking on a fragment of a Neolithic axe

Traces of woodworking on a fragment of a Neolithic axe

Our researchers stress the importance of integrating their skills: all analyses are carried out at the same lab. Therefore the extraction and cleaning procedures are carefully controlled and residues and wear traces are preserved. If necessary, the procedure to be followed is adapted for each specific artefact and is adjusted to the results of the previous analytical step. The laboratory has developed a method for phytolith analysis without chemical treatment. This guarantees a minimal loss of data, which is often a problem when wear trace and residue analysis are performed in different laboratories.

Experiment: splitting reeds with a flint blade

Experiment: splitting reeds with a flint blade

The Laboratory for Artefact Studies represents many years of experience in the field of implement-analyses. There is, however, a constant interest in the development new research methods and the analysis of new materials.

As we are part of the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University we have direct contact with other specialists and laboratories, especially the laboratories for palynology, palaeozoology and ceramology.

Last Modified: 14-10-2010