The Sweet Smell of Archaeology


| 10/13/2007 12:00:00 AM


Tags: Archaeology, Chemistry, Andrew Koh, the American Scholar.,

 In the Autumn issue of the American Scholar (article not available online) writer Elyse Graham highlights the innovative archeology and chemistry work of Andrew Koh. On the island of Mochlos, near Crete, archaeologists were stumped by a Bronze Age building. They knew it was a factory, but they couldn’t figure out what it made. So they called on Koh, then a chemistry grad student, to do some analysis. Fed up with the time consuming and costly procedures of lab work, Koh started using a Polyvap, a portable machine typically used in food science. Thanks to device, Koh cracked the archaeological mystery, and figured out that the building was a perfume factory. The finding was a key to unraveling other mysteries on the island. Now, after innovating the field of archaeochemistry, Dr. Koh is a classics professor, and he's been teaching his techniques to his fellow scientists. -- Julie Dolan