We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Infomatics Lab

This laboratory is the base for the department’s GIS and remote sensing related projects, and houses several post-doctoral members of staff. It is also used by postgraduates and third year undergraduates working on relevant dissertations. We have ten state-of-the-art computers equipped with a range of spatial analysis and remote sensing software packages, as well as high-definition scanning and printing facilities.

Kiln Lab

The Kiln Lab is the departmental computer suite and is available both for personal study and as a teaching room for archaeological software tutorials.

Fenwick Human Osteology Lab

This laboratory is used as a teaching area for students working towards an MSc in Palaeopathology, and also as a research space for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. The Fenwick Lab has a range of resources including articulated and disarticulated anatomical skeletons and models, age estimation casts, some casts for teaching palaeopathology, measuring equipment, and endoscope, digital X-ray facilities, a radiographic collection, papers and books.

Conservation Lab

The teaching laboratory for the MA in Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects course has the space and facilities required for educating and skilling 10 student conservators. Equipment and facilities include: air abrasion, freeze drying, X-radiography environmental monitoring, Oddy testing, moulding and casting.

"Revelation, Investigation & Preservation" Chris Caple

Materials Analysis Lab

This laboratory, used for both teaching and research, houses the Archaeological Artefacts Forensic Analysis Centre and Durham Archaeomaterials Research Centre, which supports EDXRF, SEM, FTIR, reflectance spectrophotometer, UV/Vis absorption spectrometer and microscopy facilities.

Practicals Lab

We have a large teaching lab that is regularly used for practical classes as well as lectures and seminars. This lab also contains the X-ray equipment, which is made available to students for use in carrying out their research projects.

Pollen and Isotopic Analysis Lab

This lab is used by staff, students and Archaeological Services for a variety of chemical analyses. This includes the analysis of carbon, nitrogen and strontium isotopes from bones and teeth to provide information on past diets and movements of people and animals. It also is used for the analysis of soil samples and the extraction of pollen to provide information on past environments and landscapes.

Environmental Processing Lab

This large space has a series of wet processing sinks complete with sediment traps for soil processing, in addition to several smaller sinks for artefact and ecofact washing. As well as wet processing facilities, this lab also contains dry sorting benches, storage spaces, and a drying oven. Both postgraduate students working on research projects and the environmental branch of Archaeological Services regularly use this lab.

Luminescence Dating Facility

This facility was first established in 1983 and has developed considerable experience in dating a wide range of archaeological materials from around the world. The lab has a long established international research profile; the scope of recent work includes both application to archaeological samples and fundamental investigation of the luminescence of natural minerals. This research informs the methods applied in the service facility and our current interests include the dating of:

  • medieval buildings (brick);
  • sedimentary deposits from prehistoric sites;
  • dating stone surfaces of monuments and masonry;
  • earliest manufacture of pottery.

The Grinding Room

This is an area dedicated to the process of grinding archaeological bone into fine powder. This is done using a machine called a Mikrodismembrator, and this uses a ball bearing to pulverise the bone. This lab also possesses an anteroom, where we store our sample materials.

The Ancient Lab

This lab is a clean facility for extracting the DNA from the bone powder. We also use this space to set up the Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCR), which allow us to amplify the DNA so that we can then sequence it.

The Modern Lab

The Modern Lab is where the PCR step takes place. This lab contains separate spaces for extracting DNA from modern tissue and feathers and for amplifying the DNA on PCR machines, running electrophoresis gels, and taking photographs of our results. We also possess a pyrosequencing machine, which allows us to read the DNA of short fragments present in the ancient material.