Metallography is the study of the physical structure and components of metals. This tool can be used by archaeologists, conservators and scientists to understand exactly how ancient people created objects. The microstructure of the metal is revealed after etching and can be used to determine whether copper alloys are simply cast or have been worked. In iron and steel metallography can be used to determine the carbon content and also what heat-treatments have been applied, welding techniques and manufacturing methods.

I can provide a one day theoretical course on metallography of ancient artefacts for archaeologists, archaeological scientists or conservators. The course can be tailored to the specific audience and will cover

  • Phase diagrams
  • Copper alloy microstructures, use of lead, hot and cold working
  • Iron and steel microstructures and determining carbon content
  • Heat-treatments and working of iron alloys
  • Case studies will be used

The course can be extended to include intensive practical sessions (for small numbers of students). In these sessions sample preparation and the process of etching using nital will be covered. There will also be the opportunity to look at a collection of ancient samples or for me to look at the students samples. Course books and metallurgical help sheets can also be provided.

Some quotes about my metallography course

We were introduced to the skill of analysis and interpretation of ‘phase diagrams’ and grain structures associated with the transition phases in the metal alloying process. At first glance, the diagrams did seem complicated, however, with group exercises along with Eleanors’ guidance, I felt empowered.HMS Crucible 83

I was able to ask several questions about metallography which she diligently answered. This was my favorite topic because it is related to my current internship work.’ HMS Crucible 86