X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry is a prevalent means of non-destructive elemental analysis in archaeology, the earth and environmental sciences, cultural heritage and museum studies, and other fields. A few universities have specialized archaeological XRF laboratories.

We are fundamentally different. 

The Yale Archaeological XRF ExoLab (YAXX) is not a laboratory in the traditional sense. That is, our XRF instruments are not restricted to a particular room on campus. Instead, we use portable XRF instruments that can analyze artifacts or other objects in our Archaeomaterials Suite, across campus at the Peabody Museum or the Yale University Art Gallery, on a mountainside, or in an archaeological field house on the opposite side of the world.

We work outside (“exo-”) the lab – hence, an “exolab.” This eliminates shipping or exporting artifacts, soils, and other specimens to a distant analytical facility, and it improves collaborations with our colleagues around the world, enabling us to integrate chemical analysis into projects in new and innovative ways.

YAXX is part of the Yale Initiative for the Study of Ancient Pyrotechnology (Y-PYRO)As such, it is involved in teaching and research at all levels in the Department of Anthropology and Council for Archaeological Studies. Our students learn to use portable XRF in class demonstrations and exercises, undergraduate projects, and graduate studies.


Yes, that is a yak in the YAXX logo – yaks, YAXX, get it? And, yes, it is carrying a portable XRF case on its back. For millennia, yaks have been important pack animals in alpine regions, transporting traders’ goods through mountain passes and climbers’ supplies for trekking expeditions. It is a fitting mascot for our endeavors to bring XRF instruments into the field.


YAXX was founded in 2017 thanks to generous awards from the Anthropology Department and the Offices of the Vice Provost for Research, Dean of Science, and Dean of Social Science.

Energy & Sustainability

In 2016, with the publication of the Yale Sustainability Plan 2025, Yale committed to carbon neutrality on or before 2050. To achieve these goals, Yale has committed to reducing energy use within buildings through conservation and efficiency, adhering to sustainable construction and renovation standards for buildings, and increasing efficiency in Yale’s on-campus power plants. Read more about Yale’s sustainability plan here.