About Us

The Archaeomaterials Group, at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering operating in close collaboration with the UCLA/Getty Conservation IDP and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology was established to assist in archaeological research of anthropological significance, to promote innovative research in ancient materials and technologies and to develop synergistic activities and sharing of knowledge among universities and museums. From a purely Materials Science and Engineering perspective the central thrust is to develop novel functional and environmentally sustainable materials based on archaeomimetism and archaeoinspiration.

Courses offered through the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and selected courses from the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program as well as supervised research contacted through the Molecular and Nano Archaeology Laboratory by the faculty members and researchers of the Archaeomaterials Group in the field of study and conservation of material culture offers opportunities for advanced education and training of young researchers in archaeological and conservation science.

The Archaeomaterials Research Group and the Molecular and Nano Archaeology Laboratory focuses on three principle scientific pursuits:

  • Archaeometry, integrating the scientific analysis of material culture based on the application of principles in the natural sciences, geosciences and materials reverse engineering processing, to understand ancient technology and craft specialization, socio-economic systems and interregional and transregional trade in antiquity.
  • Conservation Science, of material culture, studying the relation between microstructure and properties and understanding the kinetics and mechanisms of alterations induced by anthropogenic, environmental and diagenetic processes to a) determine suitable conservation treatments and b) design new conservation-suitable materials.
  • Forensics and Criminalistics, of material culture, collecting and analyzing physical evidence in the field and in the laboratory using advanced and innovative technologies in a law enforcement setting to assist in the authentication, provenance and repatriation of looted artifacts. 
Main research areas of the Archaeomaterials Group
  • Advanced Research and Development of non-invasive and non-destructive methods (field-deployable and bench instrumentation) for the examination and analysis of archaeological materials.
  • Investigations in ancient technologies of paint-glaze ceramics, synthetic pigments, mural paintings, rock art, glass, metal, dyes and composite artifacts.
  • Authentication and provenance studies in a law enforcement setting.
  • Studies of the kinetics and mechanisms of deterioration of ancient materials.
  • Synthesis and engineering of new functional and environmentally sustainable materials to mitigate the decay of ancient artifacts.
Dissemination of research results
  • Results from research projects and collaborative activities are published in peer-reviewed journals and in conference and specialized workshop proceedings.
  • The group organizes seminars open to students, faculty and staff designed to present work in progress and establish forum discussions and exchange.

The Archaeomaterials Group has a well-equipped laboratory (the Molecular and Nano Archaeology Laboratory) and also uses scientific facilities and equipment of the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program (Getty Villa), the Getty Conservation Institute (Getty Center), LACMA, the Earth and Space Science at UCLA and the ALS facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.