Welcome to the homepage for Cornell University’s Landscapes and Object Laboratory.

Located in McGraw Hall, the LOL is dedicated to the analysis and interpretation of archaeological materials.  Our projects focus on exploring the role of the material world–from landscapes and places to assemblages and singular artifacts–in human social life.

This web site is intended to provide news of LOL events, synopses of current projects, access to public data sets, and resources for LOL team members.

LOL’s pXRF Get’s Up Close and Personal with a Rembrant


On Thursday, April 9, Dr. Jennifer Mass, senior scientist, Conservation Research Laboratory, Winterthur Museum, served as guest lecturer in the the Mellon-supported interdisciplinary seminar ARTH 4605/6605: Art|Science Intersections: More than Meets the Eye, offered jointly by Dr. Andrew Weislogel, Askin curator of Earlier European and American Art at the Johnson Museum and Professor Lisa Pincus of the History of Art and Visual Studies. Core Cornell presenters for the course have included Professor C. Richard Johnson of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Arthur Woll of the IMG_1221Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), and Professor Sturt Manning of CIAMS.

The loan of LOL’s handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer allowed Dr. Mass to demonstrate to students the process of distinguishing elements in historic pigments in the Museum’s School of Rembrandt Still Life with Dead Game painting, which had been the subject of prior investigations including x-ray fluorescence mapping at CHESS and microscopy of cross-section samples previously taken by Dr. Mass. In class the students were able to witness the XRF spectrometer detect mercury in the crest of one of the ducks’ heads, which indicates a bright vermilion red pigment that has since darkened to brown. The XRF device also detected cobalt, a key element in the 17th century pigment smalt, which is made from ground cobalt blue glass. This pigment also darkens to grey-brown over time. These real-time demonstrations were crucial for the students’ realization that the colors we see in historic paintings are often much different from what the original artists intended. Dr. Mass expertly guided the class in the demonstration, showing setup of the device and use of the software to distinguish between elements desired for the experiment and those of lesser interest that commonly occur.

Llhuros Returns to the LOL

As part of the course on the “Rise and Fall of Civilization”, the Civilization of Llhuros materials created by Norman Daly were back in the LOL for students to measure, describe, and interpret.  The Cornell Chronicle has a story on the class and on the Llhuros Project here.

Prof. Adam T. Smith examines a Llhoroscan artifact with Jordan Silver ’16

Podcasting the LOL

RadioCIAMS taping with (from L to R): Shannon Dawdy, Kurt Jordan, Perri Gerard-Little, Chris Monroe, Nick Lashway, Cynthia Kocik, and Catherine Kearns

RadioCIAMS held it’s second “Conversation in the LOL” on Friday March 14 when we welcomed historical archaeologist and recent MacArthur Foundation Fellow Shannon Dawdy from the University of Chicago to chat about ruination, the archaeology of modernity, and the situation of the discipline in the early 21st century.  The conversation proved to be provocative, illuminating, and always engaging.  Listen on the RadioaCIAMS page.  Stay tuned for more!

RadioCIAMS: Conversations in the LOL

The Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies kicked off its new RadioCIAMS podcast series with a conversation in the LOL with Dr. Joanna Sofaer.  The discussion ranged from contemporary movements in bioarchaeology to the secrets of long-term collaborative research.

RadioCIAMS taping with (from L to R) Joanna Sofaer, Betty Hensellek, Liana Brent, Christopher Monroe, Nerissa Russell, Alex Marko, and John Gorczyk

RadioCIAMS taping with (from L to R) Joanna Sofaer, Betty Hensellek, Liana Brent, Christopher Monroe, Nerissa Russell, Alex Marko, and John Gorczyk

You can find the podcast on the RadioCIAMS website.

LOL in the News: Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies

New press from the Cornell Chronicle on the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies:

The institute includes 18 faculty members and a postdoctoral researcher from five departments (anthropology, classics, history of art, landscape architecture and Near Eastern studies) and two colleges (Arts and Sciences; Agriculture and Life Sciences).


“The new Landscapes and Objects Laboratory (in McGraw Hall) is a striking success in quickly becoming home to many of our graduate students, but already it’s too small for the number of anticipated students next year,” Manning said.

The complete story is here: Cornell Chronicle: Archaeology and material studies institute created.

Llhuros @ LOL

This week, the LOL hosted “artifacts” from the Civilization of Llhuros as part of Adam Smith’s course “The Rise and Fall of ‘Civilization'”.  Students were confronted with truly unfamiliar objects and asked to provide basic descriptive information and preliminary interpretive suggestions.  For more information on the Civilization of Llhuros, see:

LOL Hosts Civilization

As part of Adam Smith’s course “The Rise and Fall of ‘Civilization'”, students are examining the historical and archaeological assumptions embedded within the algorithms of one of the most popular video games of the last decade: “Civilization”.  Over the course of 3 game sessions, students will examine the elements of what makes a Civilization, according to contemporary game designers, and compare this to archaeological studies of ancient civilizations from around the world.

Ezra Profiles Khatchadourian & LOL

Ezra Magazine has published a profile of Lori Khatchadourian and the LOLaboratory in their summer 2012 issue.

The new Landscapes and Objects Laboratory in McGraw Hall, built for Near Eastern studies assistant professor Lori Khatchadourian and anthropology professor Adam T. Smith, is serving as a hub for archaeological conversation across the university. The lab builds on Cornell’s strengths in archaeology and offers a new resource for the interdisciplinary work of archaeology, which bridges the social, humanistic and natural sciences.

Read the full text here.