The Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory is equipped with a wide range of facilities for analysis of archaeological materials and artefacts. This includes:

  • Facilities for soil analysis, pollen, phytolith and other microfossil sample preparation
  • Furnaces for research into material culture, archaeo-materials and ancient technologies through experimental archaeology

As partner in the Newcastle Material Culture Analytical Suite (NeMCAS), the laboratory has a microscopy suite for the analysis of particular types of materials:

  • A suite of stereo-microscopes for artefact analysis including 6 Leica EZ4 W microscopes with integrated Wifi cameras
  • A Leica M205C stereo-microscope
  • A suite of state-of-the-art Leica DM750P polarising microscopes for petrographic and thin section analysis
  • A Leica trinocular DM750P polarising microscope with ICC50 camera and reflected light module for a wide range of petrographic and materials analysis applications
  • A bespoke Leica DM2700 MH RL microscope with MC170 HD Camera and SW Kit. This microscope has been designed specifically for use-wear analysis of large metal objects
  • A Keyence VHX 7000 digital microscope with articulated arm, suitable for use as an upright microscope or to examine large objects up to 6000x magnification
  • A Leica DM6 B TL/BF fluorescence microscope with Flexacam C1 camera
  • Portable electronic GXM - Dino-Lites AM4815ZTL for in situ artefact analysis
  • Olympus BH50 biological microscopes for pollen and microfossil analysis

Our spectroscopy suite enables compositional analysis of materials:

  • Leica DM6 with integrated Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy
  • FT-IR spectroscopy: ThermoFisher Summit Pro with Diamond ATR
  • Portable XRF Bruker Tracer III-SD analyser

We also have a Bruker SkyScan 1273 microCT system for non-destructive testing using a benchtop instrument. 

A dedicated research room is available for postgraduate and postdoctoral research.

Reference Collections

We have a wide range of reference material for teaching and research, including the zooarchaeology teaching collection (focusing on domesticates), historic and prehistoric artefacts (including glass, ceramics, metals), Roman pottery collections, and an extensive range of archaeological sediment micromorphology and microfossil material from the Near East, UK and the Americas. Our research room is also home to our human osteology collection.

Earthslides laboratory

The Earthslides laboratory is a research facility providing collaborative and commercial services in thin section preparation and analysis.

Other analytical facilities

Archaeologists also have access to advanced analytical facilities through NEXUS, the the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) mid-range facility in X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). NEXUS facilities include SEM-EDX, ToF-SIMS and Raman microscopy. For full details on techniques available see here.

For the analysis of organic materials, such as food residues in pottery, Archaeology collaborates with the Biogeochemistry laboratories in Civil Engineering and Geosciences. Facilities available include GC-FID, GCMS and GCcIRMS.