Archaeometry is the application of scientific techniques of investigation and analysis to archaeology. Along with the development of new methods of archaeological prospecting and dating techniques, the principle aim of archaeometry is to investigate the technology, composition, and structure of ancient materials—research of fundamental concern to conservation science.

The 28th International Symposium on Archaeometry was held at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and organized by UCLA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). Symposium topics included dating of organic and inorganic materials; ancient and historical technology (metals and nonmetals); artifact provenance studies; mathematical and statistical methods; prospection; and the study of human remains.

During the symposium, a one-day theme session on "Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Materials" included invited presentations on some of the most significant developments in this important area of research. This session, jointly sponsored by the UCLA Institute of Archaeology and the GCI, convened at the UCLA Fowler Museum.

The one-day session presented an overview of current research in the scientific examination of the material culture of ancient North and South America. Participants considered topics in anthropology and materials science; ceramics; stone and obsidian, geologically restricted material whose source can sometimes be determined by analytical techniques; metals; the use of platinum and platinum-gold alloys in pre-Hispanic Ecuador and Colombia, and archaeological sites and dating. A variety of papers included assessments of the compositional analysis of pre-Columbian pottery from the Maya region; kiln firing at the Sican site at Batan Grande in Peru; social organization and exchange of ceramics among the Hohokam; source identification and hydration dating of obsidian artifacts from Oaxaca, Mexico; modeling social and economic patterns in lithic procurement of obsidian from Pueblo Grande, Arizona; silver and lead in the late prehistory of the Mantaro Valley in Peru; interpretation of the analytical data for ore samples of pre-Hispanic copper alloy production at Batan Grande, Peru; chemical seriation of northeastern North American archaeological sites using copper artifacts; archaeometallurgical evidence for pre-Columbian gold processing at Putushio, South Ecuador; and stratigraphic dating and cultural sequences of pre-Hispanic northern South America.

Papers growing out of the one-day theme session on pre-Columbian materials was subsequently published by the GCI under the title Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Sites and Artifacts.