Prehistoric Technology and Archaeology

The Prehistoric Technology and Archaeology Laboratory aims to support and encourage research into and the study of collections of prehistoric stone tools, streamlining the processing and analysis of the collections generated by the CENIEH projects and other external bodies and projects. It is designed as a versatile space which adapts to the needs and demands of the users and archaeological materials arriving at its facilities.

In this laboratory, strategies directed at studying and managing the collections are evaluated, managed and developed, both for those present at the CENIEH and at other institutions, museums, exhibition halls, field laboratories at archaeological sites, etc.


Its capabilities cover a series of tasks essential for the proper conduct of these studies: preparation of collections (cleaning and cataloguing); characterization of raw material; analysis of the technology of production; characterization of tool shape (typology); determination of tool function using microscopic analysis of the traces of wear; graphic documentation (macro and microscopic photography, 3D models and standardized drawings of tools)

Facilities and equipment

It has personnel, equipment, work and storage areas which allow the different phases of the preparation and analysis of archaeological and experimental pieces to be undertaken. Its facilities are open to users of the CENIEH and the rest of the Spanish and international scientific community (projects, collaborations, support for R+D+I), and it is intended to offer it to the corporate world (archaeology and cultural management companies, museums, technological and scientific centers), and to society in general, furnishing quality, value-added services.

  • Work, consultation and storage area
    • Work tables with capacity for spreading out materials
    • Storage modules for work materials and collections being processed
    • Two workstations with PCs
    • Precision balance, digital calipers, material for making high-resolution silicone molds Coltène-President, etc.
  • Photography area
    • Photography bench and spotlights
    • Digital camera and professional software for image processing and edition of graphic materials

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  • Microscopy and functional analysis area
    • Metallographic microscope Olympus BX51. Incident light microscope, allowing traces of wear to be analyzed at up to 400x magnification, and which also has a DIRC prism facilitating the observation of traces of use in highly reflective materials such as quartzes
    • Binocular microscopes: Olympus SZX16 and Olympus SZ, with multiple lighting system and motorized base for focus and zooming
    • Digital microscope Dino-Lite AM7115MZTL which permits observation of up to 200x magnification either in field laboratory or in situ
    • Nikon camera DS-Fi2 and NIS software materials NIS materials and Helicon Focus, making multifocus captures possible

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  • Reference collections
    • Mineral collection (LITHO), reference collection of lithic raw materials with physical samples, thin sections and digital documentation
    • Experimental Traceology Collection (CET), with comparison materials for the analysis of traces of use in different raw materials (flint, quartzite, basalt, quartz, lutite, etc.) and different activities (work in wood, bone, antler, butchery, etc.

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Applications and Services


  • Archaeology and Research
    • Support and assistance to speed up the processing and analysis of collections
    • Study and characterization of archaeological assemblages
    • Logistics in archaeological, laboratory and field laboratory tasks
  • Cultural Heritage And Museums
    • Advice on questions of cataloguing, computerization of records and enhancement of prehistoric or archaeological heritage
    • Cataloguing and inventorying of archaeological collections
    • Graphic documentation and digitalization

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  • Processing and preparation of archaeological collections
    • Cleaning and organization of materials
    • Screening of deposits and sifting
    • Selection, identification and individualization of archaeological remains
    • Marking, labeling, packing and packagin
  • Cataloguing and registration of archaeological collections
  • Study of archaeological collections
    • From different contexts and chronologies
    • Technological analysis
    • Typological analysis
    • Functional analysis
  • Preparation of graphic documentation
    • Scientific drawing
    • Photography and microphotography
    • Edition and typesetting of plates
    • Preparation of infographics
    • Generation of 3D models
  • Consultation of reference collections
    • Mineral collection
    • Experimental Traceology Collection

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Last updated: Fri, 09/08/2023 - 13:11