Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM)

Since 2014, the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM)—a joint endeavor between the Penn Museum and the Penn School of Arts and Sciences—has brought together expertise in the archaeological sciences, laboratory facilities, and museum collections. In 2019, CAAM turned five years old. With its team of teaching specialists, innovative coursework, student research, fully equipped laboratories, and use of the outstanding Penn Museum collection, CAAM is unique.

Teaching Specialist for Archaemetallurgy Moritz Jansen teaches students how to study gold artifacts under the digital microscope.

Teaching Archaeological Science to Penn Students

Lee gives a class presentation on her experience making paint from ochres for her object biography.

CAAM is committed to teaching the integration of the humanities, physical sciences, and natural sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In any week during the academic year, a large cohort of students comes to CAAM for classes, lab activities, recitations, and research. CAAM’s curriculum is open to all Penn students and offers foundational courses for the exploration of archaeological science, intermediate courses for a focus on specific fields of expertise, and advanced courses in which students work on independent, original projects. A popular aspect of our research-led teaching is the practical hands-on experience students receive in the CAAM courses. For a deeper engagement, students have the opportunity to enroll in the newly created Minor and Graduate Certificate in Archaeological Science.


Student Juliet Stein examines preserved plant materials in the lab.

CAAM’s laboratories are equipped with specialized instrumentation and reference collections to support teaching, learning, and research in the in-depth study of plant, animal, and human remains, as well as metal, ceramic, and stone materials. CAAM is also set up to introduce Penn students to conservation in archaeology in collaboration with the staff of the Museum’s Conservation Department, and to digital archaeology which includes spatial analysis, geophysical prospection, and computational methods to model and analyze data.

Student Research and Fieldwork

Summer Archaeobotany Program participants build a flotation system in Molyvoti, Greece.

In addition to credit courses, CAAM provides a mentoring environment in which students carry out science-based and research-oriented independent studies, honors theses, and graduate work. CAAM also encourages and facilitates research in the field and offers opportunities for students to participate in a range of projects abroad, such as in Greece, Jordan, and Israel. Learn more about lab and field experience in CAAM directly from current and former undergraduate and graduate students.

Community Outreach

Dig Science! Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau, Director of CAAM, gives a Daily Dig talk in the Middle East Galleries during the Philadelphia Science Festival.

CAAM connects with the Penn Museum community and engages general audiences in the galleries during special events. Every fall, on International Archaeology Day, CAAM opens the laboratories for a behind-the-scenes experience. Visitors of all ages meet teaching specialists and students to hear about on-going projects that apply analytical methods to archaeological problems. CAAM also sets up pop-up stations in the galleries for specific events such as CultureFEST! days like the Nowruz festival or science-themed Daily Digs during the Philadelphia Science Festival. For a wider reach, and in collaboration with Learning and Public Engagement, CAAM is developing a virtual program on archaeological science.