A national resource for archaeological research

Consortium of Swedish Archaeological Research Laboratories

The ArchLab Consortium is a joint collaborative venture of six high profile archaeological research laboratories. It aims to unite their forces into a single, distributed Swedish national resource for scientific methods in archaeology and cultural heritage studies, thereby facilitating novel and ground-breaking research, and ensuring the availability and accessibility of existing and emerging methods and data.

In Sweden, archaeology is traditionally placed within the humanities, but today many different scientific fields and methods are combined to solve specific research questions. The constellation of this consortium reflects this interdisciplinarity. Archaeology studies human activities, driven by cultural and natural causes, environment, climate and the feedbacks between these systems. Natural science methods are fundamental to the analysis of archaeological source materials, deposits and related contexts. Archaeobotany, palaeoentomology and dendrochronology, for example, require elements of biology (taxonomy, identification) and ecology (habitat, environment), alongside ethnobotonay (plant use) and traditional archaeological methods. In turn, archaeology requires geology (chronology, stratigraphy, evolution of landforms), geography (landscape context) and behavioural and social sciences (explaining human actions). Radiocarbon dating owes its theory and method to physics and chemistry, but an understanding of archaeological contexts is essential for sampling and interpreting results. Empirical data and theoretical frameworks are intertwined in the quest for understanding the past, both as an object of study in itself, but also as an aid to understanding the human condition and predicting our possible futures.