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Image: Sofi Östman

Research Infrastructure for Environmental Archaeology

The Environmental Archaeology Lab. (Miljöarkeologiska laboratoriet, MAL) is an infrastructure for the support of research and development in palaeoenvironmental science: the study of past peoples and environments through the interdisciplinary application of theories and methods from the humanities and natural sciences.

MAL's primary research methods include the analysis of plant macrofossils, pollen, fossil insects and the multi-method analysis of the physical and chemical properties of sediments and materials. We strive to ensure the continued development and improvement of these methods, and have spearheaded recent innovations in research data infrastructure (BugsCEP, SEAD) and mobile multispectral imaging (MOBIMA).

The lab is an active research consultancy unit, undertaking analysis contracts from Sweden and internationally (primarily Norway). We also provide consultation prior to project initiation, fieldwork services, as well as access to additional analysis methods through our partners in Sweden and internationally. We are also part of ArchLab, a national infrastructure for laborative archaeology, and run Swedigarch, a Swedish national infrastructure for digital archaeology.


MAL hosts the open access international research data infrastructure The Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database (SEAD) and the world's largest fossil insect database BugsCEP. We are also a partner in the Neotoma Paleoecology Database and Community (www.neotomadb.org), DataARC (www.data-arc.org), and ARIADNE+ infrastructure projects. Our staff also participate in a number of European COST Action and ERC projects. The lab has continual research exchange with national and international partners, including guest PhD's and postdocs, and is an active collaboration partner with HUMlab at Umeå University. Research and development partners outside of academia include museums, county councils, the transport authority and the police and defence agencies among others.

Research and education

MAL's research staff are generally engaged in research on long-term environmental, biodiversity, climatic and socio-environmental change, agricultural development, plant use and food culture, sediment and nutrient cycling and hyperspectral imaging in archaeology. The infrastructure also supports university level education, including undergraduate courses and a two-year Master's program.


The lab is supported by Umeå University and the Faculty of Arts, as well as through research and development, consultancy, and teaching funding.
For more information on using the Environmental Archaeology Lab's resources, contact either of the directors, see below.

Directors of MAL

Ivanka Hristova
Staff scientist
Sofi Östman
Project assistant
Latest update: 2024-01-18