Archaeology

Professor Elizabeth Slater Archaeological Research Laboratories

State-of-the art facilities include:

Atomic Spectroscopy

We have recently installed a new Agilent 4200 (MP-AES*).  This is new sustainable technology that runs on nitrogen extracted from the air and provides high quality major, minor and trace element analysis for:

  • Compositional elemental analysis of a wide range of materials (including ceramics, metal and glass)
  • Enabling the characterisation of ancient material.

With sensitivity at a level of parts per billion, the Agilent 4200 is economical to operate and runs on compressed air to offer inexpensive materials analysis without the use of flammable gas supplies.

*microwave plasma atomic emission spectrometer

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Nikki talks about her lab research into the analysis of Roman silver coins.

We are the only University in the North of England that has a JEOL IT300 SEM.  This is a new generation variable vacuum instrument with:

  • Improved high resolution electron optics
  • New thermo energy dispersive spectrometry system with a wide range of elemental mapping and line scanning options
  • A large motorised sample chamber for investigation of whole artefacts.

All analysis requires a good library of standard reference materials (SRM) and we pride ourselves in maintaining an excellent selection of archaeologically relevant SRMs to underpin our work.

Optical Microscopy

Our new microscope laboratory is equipped with optical microscopes to carry out research on all classes of archaeological material, including:

  • Charcoal analysis
  • Petrology
  • Metallography
  • Environmental samples.

Palaeodiet Laboratory

  • Extensive research into ancient diets using light element analysis for dietary reconstruction
  • Analysis of skeletal remains of humans and animals
  • Examination of data on food groups consumed by past populations
  • Analysis of the impact of diet on health and demography to improve our understanding of human biological evolution and social development.

Lithics Laboratory

For in-depth examination and analysis of stone tools and artefacts.

Ancient Technologies Workshop

  • Analysis and reproduction of ancient working methods and materials, eg. tools and weaponry
  • Flintknapping
  • Weaving.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Visualisation Suite

Two GIS and digitisation suites support our landscape and excavation research enabling:

  • Computational modelling
  • Development of historical geographies of everyday life at a range of scales
  • Examination of the relationships between ancient peoples and objects.

Preparation Laboratory

We have a designated sample preparation laboratory dedicated to independent study and research across all areas of archaeology.  The laboratory is equipped with a fume cupboard as well as localised dust and fume extraction, a high temperature furnace and cutting, grinding and polishing equipment.

Central Teaching Laboratory

Staff and students also benefit from the University’s award-winning Central Teaching Laboratory.

Collaboration and commercial work

We undertake commercial and collaborative work. Recent clients include the Museum of London and regional archaeology units.

In recent years we have undertaken the analysis of Egyptian gold, Bronze Age glass beads and Roman bronze brooches and Iron Age and Medieval iron smelting slag.

For enquiries about working with us, please contact Dr Matthew Ponting.