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Encyclopedia > Archaeometry

Archaeological science (also known as Archaeometry) is the application of scientific techniques and methodologies to archaeology.

Significant new data can be obtained using these techniques, which has the potential to alter the understanding of the past. A good example of this is the so-called "Second radiocarbon revolution", which significantly re-dated European prehistory in the 1960's (the first radiocarbon revolution was the original introduction of the method to archaeology).

As indicated, one of the most important applications of archaeological science has been the absolute dates it can provide for archaeological strata and artefacts. Some of most important of these are:

However, archaeological science has been applied in many other ways. A variety of methods have been used to analyse artefacts, either to determine more about their composition, or to determine their provenance. These techniques include:

Lead, strontium and oxygen isotope analysis can also be applied to human remains to estimate the diet and the even birthplace of study subjects.

Provenance analysis has the potential to determine the original source of the material used, for example, to create a particular artefact. This can show how far the artefact has been transported and can be used to indicate systems of exchange.

The use of remote sensing has enabled archaeologists to identify many more archaeological sites than would otherwise have been possible. The use of aerial photography remains the most wide_spread remote sensing technique, but this has been supplemented by the use of satellite imagery, especially with the declassification of images from military satellites.

Techniques such as lithic analysis, paleobotany, palynology and zooarchaeology are also sub-discplines of archaeological science.

  Results from FactBites:
The Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (916 words)
The Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor
Although the Archaeometry Lab initially focused its attention on obsidian characterization, interest in pottery analysis has since grown rapidly such that more than 60% of the samples we analyze each year are pottery, clays, and other raw materials used in the production of ceramics.
Recent research reported by the Archaeometry Lab at MURR after June 2005 is based on support by the National Science Foundation under our current grant number 0504015.
LCM education content reader introduction Archaeometry (1585 words)
Archaeometry is the application of scientific methods and techniques of analysis on archaeological questions and objects.
However, in the field of Archaeometry two scientific traditions meet that can be considered as antipodal; the tradition of the Arts and the tradition of the Sciences.
The difficulty in archaeometry is connected with the multidisciplinary character of the field as well as the funding.
  More results at FactBites »



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