National Infrastructure for Environmental Archaeology and Archaeological Science
The Environmental Archaeology Lab. (Miljöarkeologiska laboratoriet, MAL) is an infrastructure for the support of research and development in palaeoenvironmental science: the study of past peoples and environments through the interdisciplinary application of theories and methods from the humanities and natural sciences.
MAL’s primary research methods include the analysis of plant macrofossils, pollen, fossil insects and the multi-method analysis of the physical and chemical properties of Quaternary sediments. We strive to ensure the continued development and improvement of these methods, and have spearheaded recent innovations in research data infrastructure (BugsCEP, SEAD) and mobile multispectral imaging (MOBIMA).
The lab is an active research consultancy unit, undertaking research orientated contracts from Sweden and internationally (primarily Norway) through the archaeological consultancy and research funding marketplace. We also provide consultation prior to project initiation, as well as access to additional analysis methods through our partners in Sweden and internationally.
MAL was established in 1994 through a government ruling for the support archaeological laboratories (Dnr U94/1133/FS) and has been very positively reviewed annually since then. In 2012, The Swedish Research Council (VR) changed funding strategy and discontinued the review procedure and phased out VR’s systematic funding for all archaeological research laboratories. The lab is now supported by Umeå University Faculty of Arts, as well as through research and development, consultancy, and teaching funding.
MAL is host of the open access international research data infrastructure The Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database (SEAD) and the research database BugsCEP (The Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package). It is also a partner in the Neotoma Paleoecology Database and Community and CyberNABO infrastructure projects. The lab has continual research exchange with national and international partners, including guest PhD’s and postdocs, and is an active collaboration partner with HUMlab at Umeå. Research and development partners outside of academia include museums, county councils, the police and defence agencies among others.
In addition to the above R&D projects, MAL’s current research staff are involved in research on long-term environmental, climatic and socioenvironmental change, sediment and nutrient cycling, hyperspectral imaging in archaeology. MAL provides university level education, including undergraduate courses and a two year Master’s program.