Working Group of the Expert Committee Materialography

Since Archaeo-Materialography encompasses all areas of Materialography, it is impossible to highlight individual areas in particular. The materials to be examined can come from all classes of materials (metals, ceramics, glass, etc.). The samples are usually single pieces from more or less known sites. The challenge of Archaeo-Materialography is now to reconstruct the production of these archaeological artifacts by appropriate investigations. In doing so, it would be desirable to describe both the sources of raw materials used and the technological processes employed. Such endeavors require extensive investigations: in addition to metallographic preparation, the fields of microscopy and physical analysis down to the trace level, even to the determination of isotope ratios. The biggest problem of this research area, however, is that there are no industrial and economic interests in such investigations and thus no significant financial resources are available.

Focus on Archaeo-Materialography

Because of the diversity of archaeological problems, Archaeo-Materialography must be considered as a whole and it cannot be compared to conventional foci with delineated subject areas. For the researcher interested in Archaeo-Materialography, planning investigations is not possible because it is inherently impossible to predict which archaeological artifacts will be made available for investigation. As the past has shown, there is a need for interested researchers who, in addition to their normal work, take on archaeological topics and conduct investigations, preferably for free.

Cooperation between archaeologists and material scientists

Archaeologists are trained to carry out excavations and to document them scientifically as well as to describe the recovered artifacts correctly. It would make sense if trained material scientists were involved in the investigations of the artifacts in order to contribute their expertise regarding material investigations and technological processes. Therefore, it would be desirable that archaeologists also participate in the Working Group to discuss diverse topics.


  • Establish discussion platform of material scientists with archaeologists.

  • Archaeology of copper and its alloys. Investigations and evaluations of slags and metallic artifacts of the Bronze Age, should enable conclusions to be drawn about the underlying metallurgical processes.

  • Archaeology of iron and its alloys. Many artifacts made of steel or cast iron are available from the Iron Age through the Romans to the Middle Ages. In this case, the focus is predominantly on questions of metal processing.

  • Experiments on archaeometallurgy. In order to better understand metallurgical processes, specific experiments can be carried out and evaluated in terms of materials science.

  • If there is sufficient interest, the topics could be extended to materials such as ceramics and glass, and modern archaeology could also be included.

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