Modern research on archaeological artefacts has profited considerably from the use of analytical techniques from the natural sciences. Recent research has allowed us to reconstruct considerably more precise "biographies" of artefacts than was the case previously, as illustrated by several examples from the author's own current research. However, as is clear from several cases, the relationship between the natural=scientific analysis of archaeological material and the purely archaeological aspects of that material can be complicated. Some of these problematic aspects will be described here, together with the issues confronting the museum curator faced with researchers' many requests to undertake analysis of museum items.
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