GeoArch: The organic chemistry and molecular biology of archaeological artefacts


We propose a European Joint Doctorate in response to the need for early stage training between the analytical sciences and archaeology. Archaeological chemistry, biomolecular archaeology and archaeometry are fast growing disciplines that have reinvigorated research of museum and archaeological artefacts. These approaches now offer forensic detail regarding the origin, manufacture and use of iconic and everyday items in the past. Articles published in the last year alone, such as the extraction of human genomes from Stone Age ‘chewing gum’, the fashioning of prehistoric hunting weapons from human remains, and the identification of milk in ancient ceramic infant feeding bottles, show how this field continues to influence a range of scholars, change curatorial practice and capture the attention of the global public. However, recruiting researchers with the necessary interdisciplinary skills to meet the rapid expansion of the field has been difficult.   

 To address this challenge ChemArch will:

- Support the career development and training of 15 doctoral students crossing the sectoral divide between the natural and analytical sciences and social sciences.

- Create a network of European specialist labs with complementary expertise and wordwide reach.

- Link these specialised labs with non-academic research organisations, analytical instrument manufacturers, museums and field work units.

- Provide coherent training around a thematic program converging on advancing our understanding of Europe’s rich prehistoric artefact record. 

- Involve leading organisations with a sustained history of delivering world-leading interdisciplinary science/humanities training at doctoral level.

- Provide a durable legacy through the joint creation of guidelines for best practice in the field and the lab and tools to help predict where future research efforts are best directed.

- Engage the public through outreach events, a set of Wikipedia entries and educational videocasts

Project dates

 March 2021 to September 2014


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks, European Union's Horizon 2020


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Research area


Team members

ICREA research professor
Oliver Craig
Oliver Craig
Professor of Archaeological Science, York Univ.
André Carlo Colonese
André Carlo Colonese
Distinguished Researcher, ICTA & Dept.Prehistory
Maria Saña Seguí
Maria Saña Seguí
Associate Professor, Dept. Prehistory UAB
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