Research Laboratory for Archaeology & the History of Art

The Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (part of the School of Archaeology) is dedicated to the development and application of scientific methods to the study of the past.

Head of Department: Professor Christopher Ramsey
Administrator: Diane Baker

Dyson perrins building

RLAHA was established in 1955, as a result of discussions between Professor Lindemann, Dr Lee’s Professor of Experimental Philosophy, and later to be Lord Cherwell, and Professor Christopher Hawkes, Professor of European Archaeology. The first Director, Teddy Hall, had by then just completed his DPhil in Physics. The first Deputy Director was Dr Stuart Young, shortly to be followed in 1957 by Martin Aitken.

The first volume of the journal Archaeometry (a word coined by Christopher Hawkes) was published in 1958, originally subtitled the ‘Bulletin of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford University’, but including international contributions from volume 3 onwards. This is still published for Oxford University by Wiley-Blackwell. In 1962, Martin Aitken organized a day meeting for archaeologists who had purchased proton magnetometers, which became an annual meeting. The scope of the meetings broadened in 1969 to become the “Symposium on Archaeometry and Archaeological Prospection”, held in Oxford until 1975. In 1976, with the meeting in Edinburgh, it became the International Symposium on Archaeometry and Archaeological Prospection”, and in 1980 (Paris) the “International Symposium on Archaeometry”, which continues to this day as a bi-annual international conference.

Martin Aitken’s contribution to science was recognized by the award of a Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983, and Teddy Hall was awarded an Honorary FBA in 1984. Robert Hedges was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 2008.

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