John Merkel

Research Interests

  • Conservation of metal artefacts and Archaeometallurgy
  • Early metallurgical processes and sites in the Near East and South America.

Current Research

  • Chalcolithic copper smelting in Israel
  • Copper-Iron alloys (corrosion and working properties)
  • Sican metallurgy in Northern Coastal Peru
  • Byzantine metallurgy
  • Corrosion inhibitors and protective coatings for archaeological metals

Research Directory Records

Educational Background

  • BSc 1975 University of Cincinnati, McMicken Scholars Honors Program, Archaeological Geology
  • MSc 1978 University of Minnesota, Center for Ancient Studies, Archaeo-Metallurgy
  • PhD 1983 University of London, Department of Archaeological Conservation and Materials Science, Institute of Archaeology
  • Cert. 1988 University College London, Department of Archaeological Conservation and Materials Science, Institute of Archaeology, Certificate in Archaeological Conservation


  • University College London, Institute of Archaeology: Lecturer, September 1988 to present
  • Harvard University, Peabody Museum: Assistant Conservator, June to September 1988
  • Research Consultant, Archaeometry Laboratory Development, December 1987, January and April 1988
  • Assistant Curator, Center for Archaeological Research and Development (CARD), February 1986 to September 1987
  • Research Assistant II, Center for Archaeological Research and Development, February 1984 to January 1986
  • Harvard University, Department of Anthropology: Lecturer, July 1986 to June 1987
  • Tufts University, Experimental College and the Department of Classical Studies: Lecturer, Spring and Fall 1985
  • University of Pennsylvania, The University Museum: Research Consultant, Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA), May 1983 to February 1984
  • University of Minnesota, University Computer Center: Project Assistant, Information Management and Statistics, June 1977 to October 1978 (full-time and part-time)
  • Golfomitsou, S. and Merkel, J.F. 2007 Understanding the efficiency of combined inhibitors for the treatment of corroded copper artefacts. In Metal 07: proceedings of the International
    Conference on Metals Conservation, Protection of metal artefacts, Book 5
    : 38-43
  • Golfomitsou, S. and Merkel, J.F. 2004 Synergistic effects of corrosion inhibitors for copper and copper alloy archaeological artefacts. In Metal 04: proceedings of the International Conference on Metals Conservation, (Ashton, J. and Hallam, D. eds.) Canberra Australia, 4-8 October 2004, p. 344-368
  • Feuerbach, A.M., Griffiths, D.G. and Merkel, J. 2003 Early Islamic Crucible Steel Production at Merv, Turkmenistan. In Mining and Metal Production Through The Ages (P. Craddock and J. Lang, eds.) London: British Museum p. 258-266
  • Merkel, J. 2002 Soil and Corrosion Research at Kaman-Kalehoyuk. Anatolian Archaeological Studies, Japanese Institute of Anatolian Archaeology, Vol. XI: 167-171
  • Segal, I., Kamenski, A. and Merkel, J. 2002 The Cave of the Sandal, Ketef Jericho: new evidence from recent Chalcolithic copper finds. IAMS Journal, No. 22: 7-10
  • Wang, Q., Merkel, J.F. and Chase, W.T. 2002 Preliminary study on black layers on Qucun Bronzes (China). Archaeometry 98, BAR International Series 1043 (II): 497-500
  • Wang Q. and Merkel, J.F. 2001 Studies on the redeposition of copper in Jin Bronzes from Tianma-Qucun, Shanzi, China, Studies in Conservation, 46: 242-250
  • Craddock, P.T., Wallis, J.M. and Merkel, J.F. 2001 The rapid qualitative analysis of groups of metalwork: Making a dream come true. In Pattern and Purpose in Insular Art (M.Redknap, N. Edwards, S. Youngs, A. Lane and J. Knight, eds.) Qxford: Oxbow Books, p. 117-124
  • Merkel, J & Barrett, B, 2000. The adventitious production of iron in the smelting of copper revisited: metallographic evidence against a tempting model. Historical Metallurgy, 34(2), 59-66
  • Merkel, J & Velarde, M I, 2000. Naipes, Pre-Hispanic Axe Money Currency of Peru, Minerva, 11(1), 52-55
  • Merkel, J & Rothenberg, B, 1999. The earliest steps to copper metallurgy in the Arabah, Der Anschnitt, The Beginnings of Metallurgy, Beiheft 9, 149-165
  • Shimada, I, Gordus, A, Griffin, J A & Merkel, J F, 1999. Sican Alloying, Working and Use of precious metals: An interdisciplinary perspective, in S M M Young, A M Pollard, P Budd & R A Ixer (eds), Metals in Antiquity. BAR International Series 792, 301-309
  • Feuerbach, A, Merkel, J & Griffiths, D G, 1999. An examination of crucible steel in the manufacture of Damascus steel, including evidence from Merv, Turkmenistan, Der Anschnitt, Metallurgica Antiqua, Beiheft 8, 37-44
  • Merkel, J, 1998. Simulation Experiments on Egyptian New Kingdom Copper Smelting, Ancient Egyptian Mining and Metallurgy and Conservation of Metallic Artifacts, Proceedings of the First International Conference, April 1995, 79-87. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities
  • Feuerbach, A & Merkel, J, 1998. Considerations for the Field Treatment of Archaeometallurgical Remains. Ancient Egyptian Mining and Metallurgy and Conservation of Metallic Artifacts, Proceedings of the First International Conference, April 1995, 207-213. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities
  • Feuerbach, A, Merkel, J & Griffiths, D, 1997. Production of crucible steel by co-fusion: Archaeometallurgical evidence from the Ninth-Early Tenth Century at the Site of Merv, Turkmenistan, in Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology V, Materials Research Society, 462, 105-110
  • Merkel, J, 1997. Geochemical and stratigraphic sampling strategies for ancient tin smelting, in P Budd & D Gale (eds), Prehistoric Extractive Metallurgy in Cornwall, 41-44. Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall County Council
  • Merkel, J, Shimada, I, Seruya, A I & Griffiths, D, 1995. Metallography and microanalysis of precious metal objects from the Sican Period at Batan Grande, Peru, Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology, IV. Materials Research Society, 352, 105-126
  • Merkel, J, Shimada, I, Swann, C P & Doonan, R, 1994. Investigation of prehistoric copper production at Bat├ín Grande, Peru: Interpretation of the analytical data for ore samples. Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Sites and Artifacts. Proceedings of a Symposium, UCLA Institute of Archaeology, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles,(D Scott & P Meyers eds) 1992, 199-227. The Getty Conservation Institute
  • Shimada, I & Merkel, J, 1991. Copper-alloy metallurgy in Ancient Peru, Scientific American, July, 80-86
  • Merkel, J, 1990. A reconstruction of copper smelting at Timna, in B Rothenberg (ed), The Ancient Metallurgy of Copper, Researches in the Arabah, 1959-1984, 2, 78-122. London: Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies
  • Maddin, R & Merkel, J, 1990. Metallographic and statistical analyses, in F Lo Schiavo, R Maddin, J Merkel, J D Muhly & T Stech (eds), Metallographic and statistical analyses of copper ingots from Sardinia. Ministero Per I Beni Culturali E Ambientali, Quaderni, 17, 42-199. Ozieri: Il Torchietto

Current Students

  • Alice Paterakis The formation of acetate corrosion on Bronze Art and Antiquites: recommendations for conseravtion, storage and exhibition (second supervisor Dafydd Griffiths)
  • Mariya Masubuchi Iron and steel production in central Anatolia c. 1650 - 600 BC in light of socio-cultural transition before and after the collapse of the Hittites

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