Laboratories and Professional Services

As archaeologists, our work has just begun after a site is excavated. The cultural materials found at that site, including chipped and ground stone, pottery, plant remains such as seeds and pollen, animal and human bone, and historic artifacts have to be washed, counted, measured, examined, described, categorized, tabulated, and subjected to various kinds of statistical analysis—all before the work of interpreting those results begins. The detailed information gathered by analysts in each of our six laboratories leads to a more comprehensive view of the past.

Archaeomagnetic Dating Laboratory
Archaeomagnetic dating is based on comparing the magnetic properties of burned archaeological deposits with calibration curves for the region of the earth’s surface that includes the site.

Ceramic Analysis
The ceramics lab analyzes pottery recovered from all OAS projects and conducts contractual studies for other agencies.

Chipped Stone Artifact Analysis
OAS chipped stone analysis employs a variety of mandatory and optional attributes that can be used to characterize an assemblage and help answer questions concerning residential mobility, ties to other regions, and how site occupants approached the process of making formal and informal tools out of stone.

Ethnobotany Laboratory
The Ethnobotanical Laboratory processes soil samples from all OAS excavations, as well as contracting with other agencies and individuals.

Historical Analysis
The OAS conducts archaeological investigations on historic resources throughout New Mexico.

Low Energy Plasma Radiocarbon Sampling (LEPRS) Laboratory
The Low Energy Plasma Radiocarbon Sampling (LEPRS) Laboratory is on the cutting edge of radiocarbon sampling. The ability to date extremely small amounts of organic materials through “gentle” surface oxidation has opened up a variety of dating applications difficult to address with conventional radiocarbon methods. These include the collection of stratigraphically-sequential samples from sooted rockshelter ceilings, the dating of oxalate layers both underlying and overlying rock art images, and the dating of residues from sherds.

Nondestructive Chemical Analysis Laboratory
Using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), we have the capability to determine what metals heavier than potassium are present in an artifact within minutes. We have used the technique to analyze the elemental compositions of ceramic pigments, kiva wall paintings, rock paintings, adobe bricks, prehistoric painted pebbles, and other artifacts.

Osteology Laboratory
Animal bones can provide a wealth of information on how past populations lived and adapted to local and regional resources and conditions. While it is important to know which animals were utilized, much more can be learned from the more detailed information routinely recorded by the OAS analyses.