My day of Archaeology in the Prehistoric Lab of AUTH!

My third time joining the multi-vocal and colorful “Day of Archaeology”! Happy to be here!

My 28th of July is actually dedicated to my personal (opposite to a success) story named: “writing my PhD thesis”. A lot of you might feel sympathetic to my personal nightmare, because you have been there…You start eager to conquer knowledge and end up certain you know less than you thought you knew as an undergraduate student and your confidence in your adequacy as a researcher lost for good!

I am a PhD candidate at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, under the supervision of prof. Kostas Kotsakis. My thesis is about a group of bronze jewellery from an Early Iron Age Cemetery at Stavroupoli near Thessaloniki, Greece. Apart from the obvious archaeological work done for these artifacts (indexing, analyzing, sketching, photographing, interpreting) I wanted also to understand and highlight some technological features. For that, I turned to analytical techniques such as metallography and scanning electron microscopy. What I wanted to share with you is my experience working the thin section of one of this group of artifacts.

Photo 1: A thin section of a bronze fibula from Stavroupoli, in plain polarized light

The nature of the analytical work requires of you to be well equipped with patience, knowledge, meticulous observations and careful identifications. What you see in the photo is the thin section of a small bronze spectacle fibula and you can see the worked deformed grains showing bent twins and strain lines as a result of heavy hot and afterwards cold working. The microscope can work as a “camera obscura”. Beneath the surface of this thin section I can see the love of someone crafting a beautiful item and also the love of another one carrying it for a lifetime and beyond.

Photo 2: a sketch of the fibula from my inventory


What I want to underline is that I use analytical techniques, baring the merits of physical sciences for objectivity, regularity and general rules in order to understand or even better to empathize with the person who manufactured the object I am researching or/and also the ones who had been using it. We use specific methods forged within our disciplines, methods to alienate ourselves from the material we are researching and to become neutral observers, only to understand that at the end of the day we have to produce a narrative; we have to reinvent the stories behind the artifacts, so as to get to know the people behind them.