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LEACA laboratory

Created in 2005 thank to founding from the Institut Universitaire de France and the university, the LEACA laboratory (Laboratoire d’Étude des alliages cuivreux anciens is dedicated to research programmes and teaching for Master and Phd students.

Since 2006, various studies and analysis were conducted on weapons, sometimes with famous objects like the Marmesse cuirasses, or the Bernières-D’ailly helmets. Between 2007 and 2011, a technical study of Late Bronze Age vessels was made by Ewa Wyremblewski for her Phd, with data from all over Europe. Since 2012, a new programme has been established on hoards, techniques, fragmentation with a specific focus on value.

The capacity of the LEACA is still quite limited today, but its ambitious is growing up to more international collaborations including doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. All preparations of samples and visual studies with metallographic microscope are carried out in the laboratory. However, analysis by SEM are made in collaboration with bigger institutions.

The methodology selected and used in the LEACA is linked to the approach on metal craft and the specificity of ancient copper alloys metallurgy. The goal is to understand the maker(s) and the user(s) behind objects, their society, its choices and practices respected to the value dedicated to this metal production. One main objective is to recreate, by technical analysis, the original ‘chaîne opératoire’ as André Leroi-Gourhan conceived it, like an intellectual and pragmatic tool: to understand immaterial choices through material data. In this way, the uses of objects and the possible recycling are fundamental. For this reason, analysis are made in the skill craft perspective and they are made only based on real samples to see the thermo-mechanic story of the alloys (microstructure) and to have the possibility to analyse them by SEM, in the way to exclude any trace of corrosion, and consequently wrong results (test made on Bernière d’Ailly Helmet, in RGZM 55 or proceeding 2015 f).

 3 LEACA vue gen2View of the LEACA©Lehoërff


3 marmesse         3 marmesse MEB 2de phase

Cuirasse of Marmesse©Lehoërff & SEM view of one sample©Lehoërff