Instructions for Submitting Samples

clipped pottery sherds in bags

Click through the following instructions to learn how to prepare a submission to the laboratory.

Step 1: Contact Us

The first step in submitting samples to the lab for analysis is to contact us. Ideally, this should be done during the planning phase of your project. We may be able to offer suggestions regarding analytical method, number of samples, and type of samples required that will save you both time and money. By explaining your project goals, you will help us to better understand your project and better serve your needs.

Step 2: Assign Unique IDs

A 6-digit identification system is used to uniquely identify every specimen that we analyze. This number typically consists of three letters followed by three numbers (e.g., ABC001, ABC002, etc.). Contact us to obtain a discrete range of ANIDs to use for your project. Assign ANIDs consecutively and do not skip numbers.

When packaging your sample, place each specimen in an individual bag and label this bag with the assigned ANID, your last name, the archaeological context, and any other information specific to that specimen. Alternatively, this information may be written on a clean piece of paper or cardstock and inserted into the bag along with your specimen. If your specimens are in powder form, submit them in screw- or snap-top vials. Please seal vial caps with tape and enclose the individual vials in small plastic bags. Doing so minimizes the potential for cross-sample contamination should a vial break during transit.

Step 3: Prepare an Inventory

All submissions should include an inventory of your specimens. Without an inventory, we have no way to know that we have received everything you intended to send. Use the following Excel spreadsheet (*.XLS) to create your inventory, and provide copies of this inventory on paper (with your submission) and digitally (as an email or enclosed in your submission).

Inventory worksheets:

Step 4: Information Packet

We need to know as much about your project as possible to best address your reesarch questions. Have other archaeologists analyzed similar materials in your region? If so, prepare a bibliography of these projects. Are you analyzing chert, obsidian, basalt, or another geological material? If so, provide us with photocopies of regional geological reports that discuss these materials.

The types of information we request with all projects are:

  • A map showing locations for each of the sites from which these samples were obtained. If you are working in the U.S., please use a 7.5-minute topographic map of your project area.
  • Geographic coordinates of the context of your specimens. Use Latitude/Longitude (WGS1984) and UTM Northing and Easting (NAD1983) if from the U.S.A. If your samples are not from the U.S., please use WGS1984 Latitude/Longitude.
  • Background literature applicable to your project. Full bibliographic references suffice for major journals, but consider including excerpts of CRM reports, local/regional journals, geological-service bulletins and maps, or unpublished material.
Step 5: Cover Letter

Prepare a cover letter that includes:

  • How many samples are being sent and their ANIDs.
  • The technique by which these samples are to be analyzed (INAA, XRF, ICP-MS, RS).
  • Your email address, phone & fax numbers, and your mailing address.
  • Your research questions and your goals for this project.
  • The agreed-upon rate at which your samples will be processed and billed.
  • A completed sample submission form
Step 6: Prepare your Parcel

Package your sample, information packet, cover letter, sample inventory, and the sample submission form into a single box. Email or include a digital copy of your information packet, cover letter, sample inventory, and the sample submission form. If your specimens are fragile, use packing material. If your samples have sharp edges, such as rocks, double bag them. Package your sample in a durable box, not an envelope.

Step 7: Send your Parcel / Notify us Immediately

Your parcel should be sent to the following address:

Attn: April Oga, Laboratory Manager
Archaeometry Laboratory, University of Missouri Research Reactor
1513 Research Park Drive, Columbia, MO 65211, USA

Telephone: (573) 884-5540

Shipments may be made through USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Once you have sent your package, please email the lab immediately.

We do not accept unexpected shipments of any kind. We must have the following information to receive your package:

  • Sender of package (this is usually you)
  • Parcel-delivery service (e.g., UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.)
  • Tracking or Shipment Number
  • Date of Expected Delivery

If this information is not provided to us by the time the parcel arrives, the parcel will be rejected and returned to you.