Research programme: Archaeological and Archaeometric Research of Portable Archaeological Heritage

Collaboration of the National Museum of Slovenia and the Josef Stefan Institute.
Research periods
Slovenian Research Agency (1,4 FTE, category C)
Programme group
  • Bras Kernel, Helena (technical associate)
  • Istenič, Janka (head), archaeology
  • Knific, Timotej (researcher), archaeology
  • Karo, Špela (researcher), archaeology
  • Kos, Peter (researcher), numismatics
  • Laharnar, Boštjan (researcher), archaeology
  • Menart, Eva (researcher), analytical chemistry
  • Pavlovič, Daša (researcher), archaeology
  • Petrovič, Toni (researcher), physics
  • Šmit, Žiga (researcher), medium- and high-energy physics
  • Tratnik, Vesna (early stage researcher), archaeology
  • Turk, Matija (researcher), archaeology
  • Turk, Peter (researcher), archaeology
The research programme includes the investigation of small finds and sites from Slovenia (and Croatia – in the field of numismatics), covering the period from the Early Stone Age to the Early Middle Ages. Although the programme focusses on small finds, it also includes fieldwork, especially non-destructive survey methods of archaeological sites.
Previous results of our inter-institutional research programme, which has been ongoing since 2004, have shown that the well-designed implementation of natural science methods in the study of small archaeological finds led to significant new findings. Therefore, the implementation of science methods (e.g. PIXE, PIXE, XRF) remains one of the main characteristics of our research. It is also a prerequisite for quality conservation or restoration of objects of cultural heritage. A broad approach to the research of portable archaeological heritage is important for its interpretation and competent presentation to the general public. 
Research emphasis of the 2015–2020 period
  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic 
  • 13th–6th century BC hoards 
  • Iron Age and Roman cult places
  • Celtic coinage in the territory of Slovenia and Croatia
  • Transition from late prehistory to the Roman period in the Notranjska region
  • Roman military equipment (including archaeometric research)
  • archaeometric research (PIXE, PIGE) glass finds from Prehistory and Early Middle Ages 
  • Late Antique and Early Middle Age site Gradišče above Bašelj
Brooch of the Alésia type during the determination of the elemental composition with the proton-induced X-ray emission spectrometry (PIXE) technique. Our archaeometric research of the 1st century BC brooches was the key step in research on the beginnings of the use of brass (copper-zinc alloy) in Europe. The results prove that it was the Romans that introduced the production and use of brass in Europe as early as about 60 BC. (Photo: Žiga Šmit)
Roman helmet and sword in a sheath; marked spots indicate locations of the PIXE elemental composition determination. This technique, in combination with PIGE (proton-induced Gamma-ray emission spectrometry) for enamels, was chosen to identify metals on Roman military equipment because it is minimally invasive, does not require the taking of samples,  is suitable for the analysis of metal surface coatings and  enamels, and allows the examination of  large objects, and gives relatively accurate results. The results of our research show that the use of materials in the production of Roman military equipment at the end of the 1st century BC and at the beginning of the 1st century AD was highly standardized. (Photo: Sonja Perovšek)
Select objects from the 13th–12th century BC hoard found in Bled. In addition to bronze objects (weapons, tools and personal attire), the hoard includes two golden diadems, which are the oldest gold objects from the territory of Slovenia. (Photo: Tomaž Lauko)