Principles of Archaeometry


This curricular unit intends to empower students of the Degree in Archaeology with the necessary knowledge for a comprehensive view on the various aspects of the most common material classes in the archaeological context, such as metals, ceramics, glass, stone and mortars. It is intended that students acquire basic knowledge about the structure and properties of these materials, as well as the most common laboratory techniques used in their material and structural characterization. Through practical examples and case studies it is intended that students can deliberate about the use of the most appropriate characterization techniques and analysis methodologies in order to be able to answer questions related to manufacturing, provenance and dating.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

João Pedro Botelho Veiga


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language



Available soon


- Artioli, G. (Ed.), Scientific methods and Cultural Heritage – An introduction to the application of materials science to archaeometry and conservation science, Oxford University Press, 2010. - López Varela, S.L. (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences, Wiley, 2018. - Edwards, H.G.M., Vandenabeele, P. (Eds.), Analytical Archaeometry – Selected topics, RSC Publishing, 2016. - Roberts, B.; Thornton, C. (Eds.) Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective, Springer, 2014. - Montero Ruíz, I., García Heras, M., López-Romero, E., Arqueomtería: Campios y tendencias actuales, Trabajos de Prehistoria (2007) 64(1), 23-40. - Cabral, J.M.P, Radioactividade – Contributos para a História da Arte, IST Press, 2011. - Publicações diversas: artigos em actas de conferencias e em revistas científicas da área (ex. Journal of Archaeological Science, Archaeometry; Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences)

Teaching method

The curricular unit consists of a set of theoretical-practical classes, where it is intended that students have a contact with the complete cycle of the study of materials in the context of archaeological cultural heritage, from the basic principles of the structure and properties of the different classes of materials to the most used characterization and analytical techniques used. Visits to laboratories of excellence for the study of these materials, as well as contact with concrete case studies will give an eminently practical character to this curricular unit.

Evaluation method

Método de avaliação - The evaluation is continuous by the presence and participation in the theoretical-practical classes, and two tests are performed to dispense from the final exam (60% of the final grade)(60%), a report (40% of the final grade) that comprises the practical works and laboratory visits is mandatory. Students have access to a final written exam that replaces the classification achieved in the tests(40%)

Subject matter

1. Basics in Structure and Properties of Materials: / - Ceramics : - Glass /- Stone and mortars /- Metals, ores and slag 2. Basics in Characterization Techniques: /- Electromagnetic Spectrum; Visible light, IR, UV; X-rays / - X-ray Diffraction Spectrometry; X-ray fluorescence /- Differential Thermal Analysis and Thermogravimetric / - Optical microscopy; Scanning electron microscopy / - Raman spectrometry; FTIR / - Isotopic methods of dating and speciation 3. Examples of case studies in the various classes of materials: / - Ceramics - from prehistory to the modern period / - Glasses - from the roman to the industrial period - Metals - from prehistory to the medieval period; tools, ornamental objects, coins / - Stone - megalithic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula; stone tools / - Mortars in the Mediterranean basin - from the Minoan civilization to the modern age


Programs where the course is taught: