The ULiège European Archaeometry Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary
Created in 2003 by researchers at the University of Liège, the European Archeometry Center (CEA) studies movable and immovable cultural heritage, its materials and how they are used by combining historical and archaeological data with the results of scientific analyses. Between excavation sites, Magritte's paintings and the analysis of archaeological objects, the centre collaborates closely with art historians, archaeologists and scientists from prestigious international laboratories. ULiège is also the only Belgian university to offer a master's degree in archaeometry.
reated in 2003 on the initiative of scientists from the University of Liège, the Centre Européen d'Archéométrie (CEA) works with museums and research centres all over the world. The desire to develop the discipline actually began in the late 1990s," explains Line Van Wersch, archaeologist and director of the CEA. The University of Liège encouraged the development of archaeometry by supporting the Interdisciplinary Archaeometry Group, which already included Dominique Allart (art historian), Patrick Hoffsummer (dendrochronologist), Lucien Martinot (chemist), Georges Weber and Henri-Pierre Garnir (physicists). Following on from these premises, the European Centre for Archaeometry was created to promote and federate research in this cutting-edge sector. The centre has enabled the optimum development of archaeometry activities and the resulting methodological thinking."
The ambition behind the creation of the CEA was to create a centre of expertise and to occupy a dominant position in the field of archaeometry. The main research programmes were divided into three areas: the study of the technical and material aspects of works of art, the archaeology of buildings and the development of three-dimensional digital surveys. When it was founded, the centre, chaired by Dominique Allart and Patrick Hoffsummer, had almost forty members.
In 2005, the recognition of a centre of excellence at the University of Liège led to the creation of a master's degree in archaeometry, the only 120-credit course in this field. With 8 students enrolled in the first year and 22 the following year, the master's programme has since welcomed around twenty students a year. Nearly a hundred students have graduated in History of Art and Archaeology, with a major in archaeometry. Many of these students have gone on to complete doctoral theses within the centre or at other institutions. Many of these alumni now hold positions in the research and heritage sectors. Also in 2005, under the impetus of the University, the centre's team benefited from two post-doctorates, which opened up new avenues of research and increased the centre's international reach," continues David Strivay, President of the CEA. From then on, our areas of expertise focused on pictorial materials, the arts of fire, wood and analysis and development methods.
Archaeomatics - a discipline that combines archaeology and geomatics - has also become an integral part of archaeometry research at the University of Liège. Major international research projects, including the 'Nacho' IAP and the European 'Roofs of Europe' project, have strengthened the team and highlighted the CEA's skills. Line Van Wersch adds: "These projects have contributed to its widespread recognition both inside and outside the University. In particular, it was thanks to this that in 2011 Liège hosted the symposium of the GMPCA, Groupe des Méthodes Pluridisciplinaires Contribuant à l'Archéologie, which was founded in 1976 and brings together specialists from all over the world.
The inter-faculty collaboration initiated within the CEA led to the creation of the Art, Archaeology and Heritage Research Unit (AAP), a centre of scientific expertise that brings together researchers from ULiège's Faculties of Science, Philosophy and Literature, Architecture and Applied Sciences.
The Centre Européen d'Archéométrie now employs around twenty people who are fully active in this field of research, in addition to many collaborators who are involved in research projects and in supervising students.
In addition to those already present, the research fields have recently been extended to include conservation and biological anthropology. The skills and equipment available at the European Archaeometry Centre remain at the cutting edge of the latest developments, enabling it to maintain its position for 20 years now.
A conference day to celebrate 20 years of research
To celebrate this jubilee, the members of the Centre Européen d'Archéométrie are organising a study day at the Cité Miroir on Friday 26 May 2023, which will be attended by many scientists and students.
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