Archaeological Computing

QGIS screenshotInformation technology and computational literacy is essential for modern archaeological research. This course, developed for the 2017-18 academic year, aims to offer a firm foundation for second-year archaeology students, focusing on a set of core technical skills (statistics, databases, and GIS).

The course begins with an initial assessment of individual student proficiencies in basic IT practices: e.g. Microsoft Word and Excel, and image preparation (simple processing in applications such as Photoshop); remedial lab sessions are arranged to fill deficiencies or refresh latent skills. The course then focuses on developing working knowledge in statistics, databases, and spatial analysis/GIS. Industry-standard commercial software packages (e.g. MS Access, ArcGIS) are taught alongside open source alternatives (e.g. MySQL, PostGIS, QGIS), maximising student technical literacy and access.

Key technical skills are developed and applied through a single-project portfolio, ending in a final site/project report, which forms the basis of assessment. Students learn to manage an analytical research project from initial data collection (including public data repositories and Edina DigiMap) and data model design (including file and server geodatabases) through various computer-aided analyses and final output processing. This will include quantitative methods, data and image optimization, and the production of appropriate digital and hard-copy outputs.

In addition to this module, I am currently developing a short course/workshop on 3D photogrammetric applications for archaeology and heritage. This will include uses of photogrammetry at multiple scales, including small finds, sites and structure, and wider landscapes. It is anticipated that this course/workshop will be offered to students, regional archaeological/heritage professionals, and the wider public during the Easter holiday or late spring/early summer of 2018.