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Department of Archaeology



My academic background includes degrees in history, archaeology and archaeological science. Their combination is a recurrent thread in my work. 


Much of my research has focused on the analysis of material culture and the reverse engineering of archaeological technologies, as a starting point to understand the evolution and movement of knowledge, people and things. Working with a large number international research students and postdoctoral fellows has massively broadened my horizons. I am very fond of collaborative and exploratory research, and greatly enjoy teaching. 


I joined the Department of Archaeology in Cambridge in 2018, after over decade at UCL. I am very excited about the new challenges, synergies and opportunities that this will bring.


My research interests centre around material culture and technologies, the context of innovations, and knowledge transmission. I approach these subjects through a combination of analytical studies of archaeological materials, experiments, and historical sources. Much of my work has focused on archaeometallurgy in Europe, Africa, America and Asia, from prehistory to the recent past, and including scientific analyses of the manufacture and trade of gold, silver, copper, bronze, brass and iron, often studying production remains. I have additionally worked with ceramics, pigments, glass and amber, among other interesting materials. To different extents, my laboratory work has included optical microscopy, OM, SEM-EDS, EPMA, FTIR, XRD, (LA)-ICP-MS, (p)XRF, and Raman. I am also involved in collaborations that variously engage geometric morphometrics, multispectral imaging and statistics.



  • Material culture and technology
  • Knowledge transmission
  • Inventions and innovations
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Archaeology of alchemy and chemistry
  • History and philosophy of science

 I am presently involved in the following research projects:



Key publications: 

For a list of publications please see ORCID profile ( You may be able to download some of these from page

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

I currently supervise research students and postdoctoral fellows on a range of topics related to the above interests, enrolled at either UCL or the University of Cambridge Cambridge. I am interested in supervising students who wish to study for an MPhil or a PhD on related subjects, and happy to discuss new departures.

Current postdoctoral research fellows

  • Eleanor Blakelock (funded by Leverhulme Trust)
  • Ema Bauzyte (funded by Fitzwilliam Museum's Being an Islander Project)

 Past postdoctoral research fellows

  • Marc Gener-Moret (funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions)
  • Kunlong Chen (funded by Newton Fellowship)
  • Pau Sureda (funded by Government of Galicia, Spain)
  • Xose-Lois Armada [2018: Postdoctoral researcher, Incipit, CSIC, Spain)
  • Mike Charlton [2018: Lecturer, UCL]
  • Mercedes Murillo-Barroso [2018: Postdoctoral researcher, University of Granada]

Current students:

  • Mark Davis (UK): Brass vs bronze: Continuity and change from Late Antiquity to the early Islamic period in the Persian Gulf and adjacent regions, funded by AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with the British Museum
  • Saltanat Amir (KZ): Goldsmithing technologies, organic materials and funerary rituals in the Saka societies of the Eurasian Steppe Region during the Iron Age (c. 900 – 100 BCE), funded by Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarships
  • Elizabeth La Duc (US): Coal Usage in Romano-British Ferrous Metallurgy: Identification and Interpretation, funded by the Cambridge Trust
  • Julia Montes-Landa (SP): Evolution, co-existence and adaptation of bronze-making recipes in Prehistory: a case study from North-Eastern Iberia, funded by AHRC and Cambridge Trust Vice Chancellor’s Award
  • Yi-Ting Hsu (TW): Fire assay, cupellation, and the spread of technical knowlede in Early Modern Europe, funded by Taiwan-Cambridge Scholarship
  • Jasmine Vieri (FI): Regional and Temporal Patterns in the Composition of Pre-Columbian Gold and Copper Alloys, funded by AHRC
  • Laura Arcidiacono (IT): Development of a neutron technique for the non-destructive and non-invasive analysis of archaeological gold artefacts (first supervisor), funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Ole Nordland (NO): Iron making in Viking Age Scandinavia (c. AD 750-1000): Political power, knowledge transmission and technological changes (first supervisor), funded by AHRC
  • Yaxiong Liu (CN): Iron and the Rise of the Qin Empire: An Exploration of the Iron Industry and its Social Impact during the Warring States Period (joint first supervisor), funded by Chinese Scholarship Council
  • Umberto Veronesi (IT): The Alchemy of Early Modern Glass (first supervisor), funded by AHRC

Past Students

  • Agnese Benzonelli (IT): Validation of analytical methods for non-invasive characterization of natural and artificial patinas (second supervisor), funded by Tylecote Scholarship
  • Laura Ware Adlington (US): Investigation of technology, production and deterioration of medieval stained glass using handheld pXRF  (second supervisor), funded by UCL Graduate Scholarship
  • Maria Teresa Plaza Calonge (CL): Gold technology and the Tiwanaku empire in San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile, during the Middle Horizon (AD 400-1000) (first supervisor), funded by Chilean government
  • Jonathan Wood (GB): The transmission of silver and silver extraction technology across the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE: A precursor for the Classical Age (first supervisor), funded by AHRC
  • David Larreina-García (SP): Copper and bloomery iron smelting in Central China: Technological traditions in the Daye County (Hubei) (2017, first supervisor), funded by Impact Scholarship [2018: Marie Curie IEF fellow at University of the Basque country]
  • Rahil Alipour (IR): Persian crucible steel production in Central Iran (AD 802-1431) (2017, joint first supervisor), funded by UCL Qatar [2018: Gerda Henkel Fellow at UCL]
  • Miguel Carrero (SP): The megalithic phenomenon in Galicia: Contributions of GIS and spatial statistics to the study of location patterns (2017, second supervisor), funded by Spanish Government Research Scholarship.
  • Pira Venunan (TH): An archaeometallurgical study of iron production in Ban Kruat, lower Northeast Thailand: technology and social development from the Iron Age (500BC-AD500) to the Imperial Angkorian Khmer (AD802-1431) (2016, first supervisor), funded by Thai Royal Family Scholarship [2018: lecturer at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand]
  • Mainardo Asinelli (IT): Manufacture and use of copper and copper-alloy artefacts in medieval Tuscia (2016, first supervisor), funded by European Union ITN [2018: Marie Curie IEF fellow at University of Vic, Spain]
  • Siran Liu (CN): Gold and silver production in Imperial China. Technological choices in their socio-economic and environmental settings (2015, second supervisor), funded by Sino-British Fellowship Trust [2018: lecturer at University of Science and Technology Beijing, China]
  • Ruth Fillery-Travis (UK): Iron production in the Western Roman Empire: A diachronic study of technology and society based on two archaeological sites (2015, first supervisor), funded by AHRC [2018: Professional Services at University of Sussex]
  • Carmen Ting (HK): Change, continuity, and the Maya Collapse: Reconstructing the ceramic economy in the Eastern Maya Lowlands during the Classic to Postclassic Transition (2013, joint first supervisor), funded by UCL Graduate Scholarship [2018: Marie Curie IEF fellow at University of Cyprus]
  • Thomas Thondhlana (ZB): Pre-colonial copper production in the Northern Lowveld, South Africa, c. AD 700-1900 (2012, first supervisor), funded by EPSRC and Xstrata [2018: tenured lecturer and Deputy Dean at University of Great Zimbabwe]
  • Maria Dikomitou (CY): Ceramic production, distribution and social interaction. An analytical approach to the study of Early and Middle Bronze Age pottery from Cyprus (2012, second supervisor), funded by Leventis Foundation, Cyprus [2018: Marie Curie IEF fellow at UCL]
  • Roseleen Bains (CA): The social significance of stone bead technology in Neolithic Catalhoyuk, Turkey (2012, second supervisor)
  • Xiuzhen Janice Li (CN): Standardisation, labour organisation and the bronze weapons of the Qin Terracotta Warriors (2012, joint first supervisor), funded by Kwok Foundation, Hong Kong [2018: senior archaeologist at First Emperor’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an, China]
  • Wenli Zhou (CN): Distilling zinc in China: The technology of large-scale zinc production in Chongqing during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (AD 1368-1911) (2012, first supervisor), funded by Kwok Foundation, Hong Kong [2018: researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences]
  • Louise Iles (UK): Technology, society and tradition: reconstructing the iron industries of Bunyoro-Kitara (2011, second supervisor), funded by AHRC [2018: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at University of Sheffield]
  • Jane Humphris (UK): An archaeometallurgical investigation of iron smelting traditions in Southern Rwanda (2010, second supervisor), funded by AHRC [2018: Director of UCL Qatar Research in Sudan]
  • Virpi Holmqvist (FI): Ceramics in transition: a comparative analytical study of late Byzantine-early Islamic pottery from Palaestina Tertia (2010, joint first supervisor), funded by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, Finland  [2018: lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Finland]
  • Aude Mongiatti (FR): Assaying and smelting noble metals in sixteenth-century Austria: a comparative analytical study (2009, joint first supervisor), funded by EU Marie Curie EST [2018: research scientist at the British Museum]
  • Oliver Pryce (UK): Copper production and technological reproduction in the Khao Wong Prachan of central Thailand (2009, second supervisor), funded by Tylecote Grant [2018: senior researcher at the CNRS, France]

Other Professional Activities

  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Archaeological Science
  • President, Society for Archaeological Sciences
  • Trustee, Institute for Archaeometallurgical Studies
  • Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Editorial Board: Historical Metallurgy, Materialidades: Perspectivas actuales en cultura material, Pyrenae: Journal of Western Mediterranean Prehistory and Antiquity




Job Titles

Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science
Professor Marcos Martinón-Torres

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Cultural Evolution

Contact Details

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Downing Street
m.martinon-torres [at]
01223 (7)60946


Person keywords: 
Materials science
Material culture
Archaeological chemistry
Archaeological Science
Science, Technology and Innovation
Material Culture
Human Evolutionary Studies
Rethinking Complexity
Geographical areas: 
East Asia
Southeast Asia
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age
Other Historical
Other Late Prehistory