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The new archaeometry programme

August 17, 2008

As of the next semester, Yarmouk University is offering a new master’s programme in archaeological sciences, sometimes known as archaeometry. This programme has been established through funding of the EU Tempus Programme.

What is archaeometry?

Simply stated, archaeometry is the application of scientific techniques in archaeology. If you like investigative TV programmes such as CSI or NCIS, you will probably find the field of archaeometry fascinating. Archaeometry is about studying an archaeological site without exposing it (using geophysics), as well as studying remains in order to understand past lifestyles, trade routes, technologies, diseases, and other issues from the past. It also involves determining authenticity of ancient relics. In short, it is sleuthing at its finest.

How is archaeometry different from archaeology?

Archaeometry focuses more on field and lab techniques that may serve the archaeologist or museum curator. The programme envisions two types of students: Science and engineering graduates who are interested in using their backgrounds in the field of archaeology and archaeology graduates who would like to learn more about science as it is applied to archaeology.

The programme will offer courses in archaeological dating (with emphasis on radiometric techniques), geoarchaeology, analysis of bone (for diet and disease reconstructions), ancient technology and metallurgy, among others. The programme requires the preparation of a research thesis.

What opportunities exist for graduates of this programme?

The Arab world is one of the richest areas of the world in archaeological remains, with sites and artifacts extending tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Despite this, the archaeometry programme is unique in the region, and very few people can be considered qualified archaeometrists, People with science backgrounds have too little appreciation of archaeological issues and archaeology graduates typically do not have the technical backgrounds for such studies. This lack of qualified people results in poor understanding of our past, the loss of our materials to foreign researchers and to dependency on these researchers.

It is expected that graduates of this programme will be in demand for governmental archeological departments, public and private museums and academic institutions across the Middle East.

For more information

Contact me.

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