Institute of Archaeology


Archaeomaterials Research Network (AMRN)

AMRN brings together IoA staff and early stage researchers interested in the composition, technology and cultural interpretation of inorganic archaeological artefacts from their materials.

Composite image of archaeological materials using various microscopic techniques

The purpose of the network is to organise focused group activities that cross-cut the wide chronological and geographic coverage of UCL archaeomaterials research.

The network's interest includes ceramics, metals, glass, slag, plaster and lithics. In keeping with the Institute's strong profile in scientific materials analysis, the network is particularly interested in archaeometric approaches such as optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and geochemical analysis. However, traditional macroscopic approaches are also incorporated, as well as experimental and ethnographic perspectives.

Technology is central to the study of inorganic archaeological materials, which represent synthetic artefacts manipulated by human hands. The interaction of craftspeople with naturally-occurring raw materials and their transformation into functional objects is a rich source of information on the skills, traditions, identities and beliefs of past societies.

Another key theme is the movement of artefacts via processes such as trade, exchange and migration. Compositional data can be used to source or provenance archaeological materials and thus reconstruct these and other types of cultural interaction.

Given the importance of inorganic artefacts within the fields of archaeology, conservation and heritage, the network has a deliberately wide remit and a relevance to many Institute of Archaeology staff. Network members include current postdocs, PhD researchers and students on the Institute’s MSc in Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials. It also fosters collaborations with other relevant institutions.

The AMRN makes use of the Institute's well equipped Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories, as well as its excellent in-house artefact collections.

Events include guest and in-house lectures, workshops focused on specific artefacts types and approaches, as well as fieldwork and experimental reconstruction.

If you are interested in joining the AMRN or have an idea for a network event, then please contact Patrick Quinn or one of the other co-ordinators.

Some Recent Publications by the AMRN

  • Adlington, L.W., Freestone, I.C. and Seliger, L., 2021. Dating Nathan: The Oldest Stained Glass Window in England? Heritage 4, 937–960.
  • Amicone, S., Radivojević, M., Quinn, P.S., Berthold, C., Rehren, Th. 2020. Pyrotechnological connections? Re-investigating the link between pottery firing technology and the origins of metallurgy in the Vinča Culture, Serbia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 118, 105-123. Doi:10.1016/j.jas.2020.105123
  • Barfod, G.H., Freestone, I.C., Jackson-Tal, R.E., Lichtenberger, A. and Raja, R., 2022. Exotic glass types and the intensity of recycling in the northwest Quarter of Gerasa (Jerash, Jordan). Journal of Archaeological Science, 140, p.105546.
  • Burton, M., Quinn, P. S., Bennallack, K., Farahani, A., Howland, M. D, Najjar and Levy, T. E. 2021. Ceramic Technology at Wadi Fidan 61, an Early Pottery Neolithic Site (ca. 6500 B.C.E.) in the Faynan Region of Southern Jordan. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, 38 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103029)
  • Chen, C. Freestone, I. C., Gorin-Rosen, Y. and Quinn, P. S. 2021. A glass workshop in ‘Aqir, Israel and a new type of compositional contamination. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, 35 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102786)
  • Freestone, I. C., 2022.  The Archaeometry of Glass.  In Pollard, A.M., Armitage, R.A. and Makarevicz,, C. (eds.) Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. John Wiley, 2nd edn.
  • Ho, J. W. I. and Quinn, P. S. 2021. Intentional Clay-mixing in the Production of Traditional and Ancient Ceramics and its Identification in Thin Section. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, 37 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.102945)
  • Miše, M., Quinn, P. S. and Glascock, M. D. 2021.  Lost at Sea: Identifying the Post-Depositional Alteration of Amphorae in Ancient Shipwrecks. Journal of Archaeological Science, 134. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2021.105463)
  • Quinn, P. S. 2022. Thin Section Petrography, Geochemistry and Scanning Electron Microscopy of Archaeological Ceramics. Archaeopress, Oxford.
  • Quinn. P. S. 2022. Scientific Investigation of Museum Objects: Planning, Analysis, and Wider Impact. In: Stephenson, A. (Ed.) The Handbook of Museum Archaeology. Oxford University Press: 387–401.
  • Radivojević, M., Roberts, B.W. 2021. Early Balkan Metallurgy: Origins, Evolution and Society, 6200–3700 BC. Journal of World Prehistory, 34, 195-278. Doi:10.1007/s10963-021-09155-7
  • Radivojević, M., Roberts, B.W., Kuzmanović-Cvetković, J., Marić, M., Rehren, Th. (Eds.), 2021. The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia: Evolution, Organisation and Consumption of Early Metal in the Balkans. Oxford: Archaeopress. Doi: 10.32028/9781803270425.

Network events


Image left to right. Thin section micrograph of 18th century pottery sherd from the UK, exhibiting clay mixing as well as two slip layers and a glaze. Back-scattered scanning electron microscope image of Roman slag from Standen in the Weald, exhibiting fayalite crystals formed in a spinifex texture within a glassy matrix. Cross-polarised reflected light micrograph photomicrograph of 7,000 year old copper slag from Belovode in eastern Serbia showing copper oxides in yellow, green and dark red phases mixing with dark siliceous matrix. Medieval stained glass window of Canterbury Cathedral, UK, being analysed non-destructively with X-ray fluorescence.