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Fellows Directory

Martin Aitken

Martin Aitken

Professor Martin Aitken FRS


Elected: 1983


Martin Aitken developed and pioneered the application of widely used physical methods in archaeological and Quaternary research. Together with his team of research students and associates, from the 1960s he developed thermoluminescence dating, including the authenticity testing of ancient ceramics with Stuart Fleming.

Prior to this, beginning in the late 1950s, Martin developed (with Edward Hall) the use of proton free-precession magnetometers and fluxgate magnetic gradiometers for the detection of buried remains. He also made important contributions to archaeomagnetic dating using both direction and intensity; for the latter he developed (with Derek Walton) the use of a SQUID cryogenic magnetometer for the determination of the ancient geomagnetic intensity.

It is largely through Martin’s enthusiasm, and that of Edward Hall, that the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford led the way in science-based archaeology. He has received the Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics, and the Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology of the Archaeological Institute of America. He was the author of several books.

Professor Martin Aitken FRS died on 13 June 2017.

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor of Archaeometry, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geophysics


Luminescence, Geomagnetism, Remote sensing

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