Alicia Van Ham-Meert

I have always been interested in both chemistry and history and have enjoyed trying to combine them through my carrier. After an MSc in Chemical and Materials engineering (VUB and ULB) I specialized in chemical analysis for archaeological purposes, first through an MSc in Archaeological Science at Oxford and later through my PhD (joint KU Leuven and VUB).

The focus of my PhD was to develop non-destructive methods for the chemical and isotopic characterization of ancient materials. In particular, I worked with µXRF for elemental analysis and with LA-MC-ICP-MS for the Sr and Pb isotopic analysis of glass. Very excitingly, we also developed a swabbing technique for Pb isotopic analysis of coins. During my research, it has been my privilege to participate in excavations and work closely with both analytical chemists and archaeologists, experiencing firsthand the richness and the challenges of such collaborations.

In the framework of TIMBER I will be looking to expand my work on Sr isotopes to study ancient waterlogged wood. I will mostly be involved in developing an efficient cleaning procedure to remove exogenous Sr and recover the original signal of the wood for provenancing purposes. The aim will be to have a better and maybe less biased understanding of wood circulation and trade in the Baltic during the medieval period. I am excited to be based in both the humanities and the sciences and to get to collaborate and with historians, geologist, archaeologists and dendrochronologists. It is also a challenge and a formidable opportunity to move from inorganic (glass and metal) to organic materials.

Relevant publications

Devièse, T., Van Ham-Meert, A., Hare, V. J., Lundy, J., Hommel, P., Ivanovich Bazaliiskii, V., et al. (2018). Supercritical fluids for higher extraction yields of lipids from archeological ceramics. Analytical Chemistry, 90(4), 2420-2424. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.7b04913

Van Ham-Meert, A., Chernonozhkin, S. M., Van Malderen, S. J. M., Van Acker, T., Vanhaecke, F., & Degryse, P. (2018). Assessment of nanosecond laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry for pb and sr isotopic determination in archaeological glass: Mass bias correction strategies and results for corning glass reference materials. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 42(2), 223-238. doi:10.1111/ggr.12202

Van Ham-Meert, A., Dillis, S., Blomme, A., Cahill, N., Claeys, P., Elsen, J., et al. (2019). A unique recipe for glass beads at iron age sardis. Journal of Archaeological Science, 108 doi:10.1016/j.jas.2019.104974

Van Ham-Meert, A., Rademakers, F. W., Claeys, P., Gurnet, F., Gyselen, R., Overlaet, B., et al. (2018). Novel analytical protocols for elemental and isotopic analysis of lead coins—Sasanian lead coins as a case study. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, doi:10.1007/s12520-018-0758-8