Scientific program

The program consists of oral and poster presentations and some invited lectures by specialists in certain subjects. The subjects of the Symposium are grouped into the following sessions:

  • Remote sensing, Geophysical prospection and Field Archaeology
  • Archaeo-chronometry  
  • Biomaterials and Bioarcheology
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Stone, Plaster and Pigments
  • Ceramics, Glazes, Glass and Vitreous Materials
  • Metals and metallurgical ceramics

One important academic activity to open the ISA2018 will be the Workshop Recent Advances in the Investigation of Ancient Mortars and Binders on May 20 (free access for ISA participants). This workshop is co-organized with Prof. Gilberto Artioli in collaboration with the Commission on Crystallography in Art and Cultural Heritage of the International Union of Cristallography  (IUCr – CrysAC). Afterwards the ISA Welcome Reception will be carry out. The preliminary program is available in the News section.

Proceedings of ISA 2018 will be published by Science and Technology of Archaeological Research (STAR), an open access journal by Taylor & Francis.

Two special sessions will be organized on:

Prof. Martin Aitken. In memoriam

As a special tribute, some presentations in this meeting will be dedicated to honoring the memory of Prof. Martin Aitken and his many contributions to the field of Archaeometry.

Martin Aitken, who passed away on June 15, 2017, at the age of 95, was a scientist who pioneered the application of physics to archaeology. He coined, with archaeologist Christopher Hawkes, the term Archaeometry, for the name of the new Journal to be launched, thus helping to make major advances in dating archaeological finds from as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. His most influential publications include Physics & Archaeology, Thermoluminescence and Dating, Science-based Dating in Archaeology, and Optical Dating. In addition to Magnetic Prospection, his main research projects focused on dating using Thermo-remanent Magnetism (TRM), Thermoluminescence (TL) and Optically-stimulated Luminescence (OSL).

Ancient Metallurgy in the Americas

Metallurgy and metalworking first emerged in the Andean region of South America, and appear to have spread progressively northward through the continent, as far as Mesoamerica, developing local technological traditions along the way. Copper, silver, and gold, as well as different alloys comprised of these and other metals, were fashioned as ornaments used in religious ceremonies and to enhance elite cultural status, but also more mundane items. In recent decades, important aspects of the production, distribution, and use of such goods in different regions of the Americas have been inferred by scholars, often from combinations of ethnohistorical, archaeological, and archaeometric data. The purpose of this Theme Session is to explore, comparatively, various key aspects of metallurgy in different regions of the Americas, setting out from a diversity of studies, including ore sources, mining technology, mineral processing and extractive metallurgy.

Oral presentations:

The length of the oral presentations is 15 minutes, plus 5 minutes for discussion.

The specially invited oral presentations have a duration of 25 minutes, plus 5 minutes for discussion.

The standard format of visual presentations is Power Point or PDF files.


Posters must be portrait in orientation (90 cm wide by 120 cm high).

The posters are the most important part of the Archaeometry Symposium. Most papers are presented as posters so and they generate fruitful and interesting discussion. For this reason they are allocated plenty of time for their presentation. Two poster sessions are planned more than 2 hours each during which time no other activities take place so the posters are well read and discussed. The presenting authors must be available during the poster sessions to present them and answer questions related to their work. The posters remain up also during coffee and lunch breaks so they can be visited also outside the devoted poster session times.

Martin Aitken Student Poster Awards

The International Symposium on Archaeometry offers two awards in every venue for the two best student posters in honor of Martin J. Aitken. These awards were established after the ISA Meeting at Toronto in 1988, following the suggestion by Prof. Ronald Farquhar, the organizer of the Toronto meeting, who offered for this purpose the surplus of money that had been left over. After the exhaustion of the original fund the awards are now offered by each venue organizer and at present they are at the level of 200 Euros each - or the equivalent in USD.

Martin J. Aitken was a professor at the Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford University. He started a series of meetings at Oxford in 1961 which were to become the International Symposium on Archaeometry. He was also the founder of the journal Archaeometry. Martin was the Chairman of the ISA Standing Committee until his retirement after 1986. He was a specialist in Thermoluminescence Dating but his broad knowledge on all dating techniques and other scientific approaches to archaeological finds made him a very important figure in such a way that can be considered as the Godfather of Archaeometry.

The ISA traditionally attracts many research students whose contribution to research in the field of Archaeological Sciences and to the Symposium is greatly appreciated. The purpose of the best student poster awards is to further encourage student participation in the ISA meetings and to highlight the contribution and importance of students in the research in the field. The aim of the awards is also to set examples for the best way of communicating and presenting the results to other scholars in the field.

Interested students are required to submit a PDF version of their poster by May 1st to: with the subject “Martin Aitken Award”.


Criteria and guidelines for judging student posters

The student posters are judged by members of the Standing Committee of ISA using the following criteria:


ISA student posters should demonstrate clarity of content, quality of research, and best use of the poster format.

Specific guidelines

  1. Are the problem, methods, results, and conclusions clearly presented and easy to comprehend?
  2. Is the research competent? Is it also innovative to some degree? Are the techniques appropriate for the stated problem?
  3. A poster is not an oral paper. Has the student used the poster format to best advantage? That is, is the text clear, concise, and balanced by carefully selected, highly visible images and graphs? A poster, like a good museum exhibit, should be easy to read from a short distance and easy to understand in a short amount of time (please note: good layout and ease of comprehension are more important than fancy fonts, designer colours, or expensive materials).
  4. The student applying for a poster award must be the first author of the paper presented as poster. There is no limitation to the number of co-authors.

Requirements for student applicants

  1. The applicant must be a currently registered student.
  2. The applicant must be registered at the conference.
  3. The applicant must be present at the poster session to answer questions.

Social program

During the Symposium, a variety of social activities will be offered to conferees in the early evening.

  • Sunday, May 20: Welcome Reception 
  • Wednesday, May 23: Visit and guided tour
  • Thursday, May 24: ISA 2018 Gala Dinner  
  • Saturday, May 26: Two optional post-conference excursions (full day tours)