Experimental Archaeology and Taphonomy

The Experimental Archaeology and Taphonomy Laboratory offers full planning and performance of experimental programs centering on solving archaeological conundrums about questions of technology, taphonomy and site formation processes. Among other services, we offer the preparation of exact archaeological replicas for functional experimentation or simulating alterations, directed at applying restoration protocols.

Methods

The Experimental Archaeology and Taphonomy Laboratory offers full planning and performance of experimental programs centering on solving archaeological conundrums about questions of technology, taphonomy and site formation processes. Among other services, we offer the preparation of exact archaeological replicas for functional experimentation or simulating alterations, directed at applying restoration protocols.

Preparation of high-resolution archaeological replicas with the precise materials and techniques of the context in question to assess specific technical processes (knapping techniques, percussion stigma or cut marks), create reference collections, and prepare samples for other experiments (traceology, taphonomy, etc.).

Experimental butchery processes, replication of taphonomic diagenetic processes (compression, flexure, etc.) and simulation of atmospheric conditions.

Immediate evaluation of the condition of the surfaces and volume of the samples or replicas to be analyzed through 3D microphotogrammetric models (±5µ) using a reflected-light Olympus DSX1000 microscope, with the possibility of sequential experiments with quantification of volume loss.

Observation using high-speed camera of technique gestures, fracturing mechanisms in replicas, and the aerodynamic behavior of projectiles.

Facilities and equipment
  • OLYMPUS microscope model DSX1000 3D

Equipped with 1x, 5x, 10x and 20x objectives, and motorized optical zoom of 10x, enabling a total maximum magnification of 7000x on monitor. This makes it possible to analyze samples, as well as taking measurements with a precision of +/-5µ and generating 3D microphotogrammetric models rapidly (e.g. stack of 150 images in less than a minute).

 

Microscopio digital 3D
  • Experimental knapping area

Space of 12 m2 equipped for experimental knapping, or for any other activity like butchery processes or conducting traceological experiments. Equipped with storage modules for materials undergoing preparation. In the space, technique gestures can be recorded precisely from different angles.

Acción de talla

 

  • Fauna and skeletization area.

In the necropsy and skeletization area we have a pressure marmite with volume of 188.4 liters (1m Ø x 60 cm h) making it possible to cook complete skeletal parts of medium-sized animals. Necropsy table with area of 2 m2 for performing butchery and skeletization processes for animals up to 150 kg, with a mill for soft tissues.

  • Universal Testing Machine (UTM) SHIMADZU model AGS-100kNX

With maximum load capacity of 100 kilonewtons (kN). Fitted with parameter controls for displacement (mm/min), force (N/s), tension (MPa/s), and deformation (%/min). It has a sampling speed of 1000 Hz in all channels simultaneously. There is a flexure device with 3 support points and 100 kN maximum load capacity, and a cuvette to simulate compression by sediments for analysis. It can perform tests for both research projects and quality control processes.

  • Climatic test chamber DYCOMETAL model CCK-25/2340MTe

The climatic test chamber Dycometal CCK-25/2340M makes it possible to simulate environmental conditions including temperature test (+25/-80ºC), exposure to solar radiation, cryogenics and thermal stress (-80/+80ºC), humidity (10% to saturation), and concentration of CO2 (from 0 to 3000 ppm). Factor variation programming. The internal dimensions of the chamber (1900 x 1123 x 920 mm = 2340 liters) make it possible to introduce several small or medium-sized samples simultaneously.

 

Equipos de ensayos
1. Pressure tester Shimadzu. 2. Climatic test chamber Dycometal. 3. Detail climatic test chamber.
  • FASTCAM NOVA R2 type 100K-C-64GB

High-speed camera of up to 100,000 fps, con 4 megapixel CMOS sensor (2048x2048 pixels at 1440 fps, 1920x1080 pixels at 2560 fps), and internal memory of 64 GB, with dedicated SSD. Dynamic range: 36-bit color. Rapid image transfer to standard PC in different formats (BMP, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, RAWW, MRAW, AVI, MOV), which can be stored with or without the associated data.

Applications and Services
  • Assistance with planning and conducting any experiment on archaeological or taphonomic questions.
  • Using the Olympus model DSX1000 3D microscope makes it possible to analyze cut marks on bones and taphonomic alterations, studying 3D microtopography to identify the techniques and procedures used in making art furniture, and traceology and functionality studies. This microscope also has industrial applications: inspection for manufacturing defects in metallic pieces in sectors as diverse as the automotive industry (detecting burrs on pistons, welded joints in radiator fins, the surface of brake pads…) or modeling.
  • Preparation of any type of replica of prehistoric artifacts for A) use in traceology and functionality studies; B) characterizing the different knapping techniques of the past; C) generating experimental reference collections to characterize the technology of archaeological assemblages; and D) collections for teaching or outreach purposes.
  • The cleaning, cooking and elimination of soft tissues makes it possible to create taphonomic, forensic and archaeozoological reference collections. In these skeletization processes we can process from the smallest vertebrates (rodents, amphibians, etc.) up to medium-sized ones weighing some 150 kg. In the case of archaeozoological experiments we can create any stone tool necessary for butchery processing, as well as assist with planning and carrying out the experimental program. 
  • Performance of taphonomic tests of compression, flexure, friction, breakage and bending, simulating postdepositional processes of sediment compaction, subaerial compression or block falls, for example. It is also possible to generate fractures in any type of archaeological artifact. Industrial quality control applications for a variety of products (toys).
  • The environmental tests make it possible to recognize the exact cause of certain alterations in archaeopaleontological materials (patinas, weathering, corrosion, rust…) to: A) apply restoration protocols; or B) assess the degradation of samples which could be submitted to other forms of assessment such as dating (AAR, C14), genetic or proteomic analysis. These tests also have industrial applications in researching the degradation of industrial materials (plastics, enamels, paints, alloys) or pharmacological samples.
  • Documentation of gestures for knapping experiments or any other repetitive activity, and documentation of fractures due to fatigue or impact. Forensic applications. Commercial and industrial applications: Crash test dummy studies for the automotive industry. Filming for the audiovisual industry (advertising, cinema, television…). Industrial R+D (analysis of automated industrial processes, robotics), military R+D (ballistics, deflagrations).
Last updated: Thu, 12/14/2023 - 18:36