The papers in this edition of the MRS BULLETIN were among those presented during a workshop entitled “SAS Interfaces '87: Microscopy for the Archaeologist.” The workshop was sponsored by the Society for Archaeological Sciences at the 52nd annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology held in Toronto, Ontario, May 1987. The Society for Archaeological Sciences is an interdisciplinary professional society for researchers involved in the broad spectrum of physical science applications to archaeology in order to promote interaction among scientists interested in different aspects of common research problems.
Archaeometry, i.e., “archaeological science,” is concerned with the physical analysis of archaeological materials and the application of techniques from the laboratory sciences to the objectives and needs of archaeology. It includes such activities as compositional analysis, reconstruction of past technologies and processes, remote sensing, paleo-environmental reconstruction, and of course, isotopic and other chronometric dating methods. Such techniques alone, however, yield results that mean little without appropriate application to anthropological problems. The chief concern of archaeologists is to choose the most appropriate analysis method to achieve results that are useful in interpreting cultural behavior. To that end, laboratory analysts need to be aware of the interests and concerns of archaeologists, and archaeologists need to be able to understand the technical advances in archaeometry to incorporate them into their research.