Characterization methods applied on building materials offer complementary archaeological information related to a building site; from the steps preceding its construction, like the supply of materials (e.g. selection and collection of wood in the forest, stone extraction from the quarry), to their transformation (manufacturing techniques used, e.g. cutting, mixing, firing), their use in the building, their replacement, etc. All the above provides necessary information in order to decide whether and how to proceed to a suitable restoration or conservation intervention of the building.

  • chemical composition: the elements and molecules that constitute a sample.
  • internal morphology: it is the form in which the elements are distributed in the structure of a material.

Identifying the chemical components or the morphology of an unknown material and comparing them to known materials can be extremely useful for:

  • origin studies
  • indirect dating
  • manufacturing technology
  • deterioration state


Dating is the preeminent step in any archaeological building study. This fundamental element not only charges it with a chronological weight, determining its origin, its different construction phases and its evolution, it also places it within a wider historical context. All these questions can be thoroughly answered only by dating a building material or a masonry structure.

There are several methodologies that allow a preliminary dating of historical buildings: