The Archaeological Science Laboratory is a center of research and teaching that focuses on application of analytical methods of characterization that provide information about ancient societies embedded within a variety of archaeological materials. The lab comprises two spaces in Eastman Hall: a small lab equipped with an analytical balance and microscopes for detailed work, and a larger lab equipped with UV/Visible and infrared spectrometers, a muffle furnace, and drying oven, as well as various reagents for preparation and processing of archaeological materials. Courses taught in the larger lab include Archaeological Science (ANTH 415) and Exploring Ancient Technology (ANTH 420).

The Laboratory is co-directed by Dr. David Meiggs and Dr. William Middleton. Current research focuses on various aspects of  human-environment relationships in Oaxaca, Mexico (Middleton) and southwest Asia (Meiggs), as well as other areas. We ask, what choices did people in the past make facing particular environmental constraints? Can we understand these in the context of environmental legacies of previous societies in a region? How did social structures change to reflect new economic or political strategies? We investigate such questions using several different methods. Phytolith analysis of soils provides information about past vegetation and plant use, whereas analysis of the elemental composition of soils from ancient structures provides insight into patterns of activity within them. Isotopic characterization of teeth in animals allows us to reconstruct various aspects of hunting practices, the organization of herding practices of domestic livestock, and how these reflect evolving human-environment relationships and social practices.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Meiggs, or Dr. William Middleton