RUB » Faculty of History » Archaeological Studies


Archaeometry is an integral part of archaeological research, which deals with the analytical study of inorganic and organic materials from archaeological contexts of all periods and regions. Archaeometry makes use of interdisciplinary methods borrowed from biology, chemistry, physics as well as geology and material science to investigate archaeological questions.

Numerous aspects of archaeological research, from the reconstruction of paleoenvironments to the reconstruction of technological processes, are nearly impossible to imagine without the aid of the natural sciences. Before an excavation is even planned, geophysical prospections offer valuable information about the settlement structures and local geology. Isotope analysis provides an important contribution to the provenancing of organic and inorganic objects as well as in the area of absolute dating. Other facets of archaeometric research are archaeometallurgy, archaeozoology, human genetics, archaeobotany, geoarchaeology, remote sensing, material science analysis of archaeomaterials and experimental archaeology.




Studying in Bochum

At the Ruhr University Bochum an archaeometry focus may be selected in the Bachelor of Arts program of the Institute of Archaeological Studies. Upon successful completion of a BA, a Master’s in Pre/Protohistory, the Archaeology of Economics and Raw Materials, or Classical Archaeology may be pursued. Afterwards, a doctoral degree in these fields with an emphasis on archaeometry can be sought.

The tight network of cooperation partners such as the department of Archaeometallurgy and Material Science at the German Mining Museum makes it possible for the Institute of Archaeological Studies at the RUB to offer archaeometry as a research focus. A number of interdisciplinary projects are active in Central Europe, the Mediterranean, Western Asia, and Central Asia, which provide the opportunity to train a wide array of field and analytical methods.

Special Features of Research and Study in Bochum

Through the partnership with the German Mining Museum Bochum, there is a unique emphasis on raw materials and economic archaeology with special regard to the archaeology of mining. This cooperation and the excellent research facilities, supported by the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, offer the possibility to gain practical experience in field archaeology and archaeometry with current research projects in Germany and abroad.
The close proximity of the Institute helps with the integration of archaeological research and it offers the chance to become familiar with the use of “abstract” laboratory methods to explore many over-arching archaeological questions. The well-equipped and up-to-date research laboratory allows students to learn the current analytical standards, for example with inductively coupled plasma mass-spectrometry.
The methods of archaeometallurgy focus on the use of optical and scanning electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, as well as isotope and elemental analysis. To better understand the importance of the landscape and the support structures supplying resources to the mining areas, archaeobotanic research is carried out to study food residue and construction materials used, but also the availability of fuel for the smelting of ore for use in the mines.
Together, these interdisciplinary methods enable us to explore the impact of mining on the economy and social structure of the ancient world.