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Chemical Methods in Archaeology

  1. Giuseppe Spoto

Published Online: 18 APR 2003

DOI: 10.1002/0471238961.0308051319161520.a01

Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology

Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology

How to Cite

Spoto, G. 2003. Chemical Methods in Archaeology. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. .

Author Information

  1. Università di Catania

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 APR 2003

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (19 APR 2013)


Chemistry plays an important role in the study of archaeological materials. Chemistry has developed methods to date archaeological material. It has also allowed us to infer trade routes by studying ancient artifacts and also shed light on the technology used to make them. The diet and customs of ancient peoples have also been discovered by applying chemical methods. Chemistry also intervenes in the understanding of the mechanisms that cause archaeological material to degrade.

The modern analytical methods available today have been used to study a wide range of archaeological inorganic, organic, and biological materials. A short overview of some of the most relevant achievements reached by applying chemical methods to archaeology is reported here.


  • archaeology;
  • archaeometry;
  • conservation science