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Techniques of artefact analysis


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Admission to the MSc-programme Artefact Studies.


The focus of this course lies on the various methods and techniques used to study the life history of artefacts. Students are familiarised with the history and use of artisanal production in general. Techniques from the exact sciences are discussed providing the tools for characterising and provenancing archaeological materials. Students are also familiarised with the advantages, pitfalls and practical implementation of microscopic and chemical techniques in scientific research.

The lectures will address anorganic material remains, dealing with topics such as provenance and material properties, and discussing techniques like neutron activation, XRF, etc.
Organic residues (i.e. lipids, fuel, etc.) will be another focus, discussing for instance chromatography.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of and insight into the study of the life history of various categories of artefacts, focusing on the mineralogical and chemical methodologies that are essential for such study;

  • Knowledge of the relevant skills to interpret and report exact analytical data in archaeological research;

  • Knowledge of residue and provenance analyses of stone tools and pottery.

Ects calculation

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 420 pages of literature (3 ects);

  • Essay, 1,800-2,000 words (1 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Written examination (75% of final grade);

  • Paper (25% of final grade).

Assessment deadline

Exam dates can be found in the exam schedule.
The paper needs to be handed in by 30 January 2013.

Reading list

  • M. Pollard, C. Batt, B. Stern & S.M.M. Young, “Some Basic Chemistry for Archaeologists” (2007) in: Analytical Chemistry in Archaeology. Cambridge, pp. 215-320.

  • Other articles will be announced later in the course.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr D.J.G. Braekmans.