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Computer Projects for Archaeologists and Ancient Historians - 10 credits (HS2417)

Course description

This is a practical based module in which students learn about, develop practical skills in and implement quantitative methods and computer applications in archaeology and ancient history projects. The course enables students to develop computer skills in the presentation, interpretation and analysis of data. Students advance their knowledge and use of one or more computer applications including spreadsheets, databases, web page development software and Earth browsers.

Students choose an area of study that will benefit from careful selection and integration of archaeological/ancient historical data and computer-based data analysis and presentation applications. Typically, the focus of research will be close to something already under study by the student so that the majority of their work for this course will be the use of computer-based applications. Students will be expected to demonstrate that they can locate appropriate data, evaluate its reliability, use appropriate computer-based applications and integrate these to come to relevant archaeological/ancient historical conclusions in a project.  To enlist on this course students must be familiar with, and be able to use, one or a combination of the following computer applications: Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Macromedia DreamWeaver MX, Google Earth.


  • To introduce students to the skills required for computer-aided archaeology and ancient history projects.
  • To enable students to use a range of computer applications available for the presentation and interpretation of archaeological and ancient historical data.
  • To provide students with hands-on experience in the use of computer applications.
  • To equip students with the practical skills required to successfully apply computer applications in an independent research project.

Credits: 10

Availability of module: Alternate (even) years. Spring Semester

Prerequisites: N/A

Necessary for: N/A

Tutor: Dr Steve Mills

Limited numbers: 23

Teaching Methods

Ten 1 hour workshops or periods of independent study enable students to discuss their research projects and to develop proficiency in the use of one or more computer applications.


Assessment takes the form of a written project (with electronic files on a CD) in an area of individual interest demonstrating proficiency in the use of computer applications as applied to archaeological/ancient historical research.  The project constitutes 100% of the total mark.

Summary of course content

  • Introduction to computer-aided archaeology and ancient history projects
  • A series of workshops, supervision and independent study

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes are attainable through a combination of formal teaching and private study.  At the end of the course students will be expected:

  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of computer aided storage, retrieval and analysis of archaeological/ancient historical data
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the potential of computer applications for archaeological/ancient historical research
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of selected computer applications (spreadsheets, databases, website development, Earth Browsers) in archaeology and ancient history
  • Evaluate quantitative data of variable quality and source
  • Know the advantages and pitfalls of using various types of archaeological/ancient historical data in computer-aided research
  • Understand and incorporate quantitative data in research
  • Communicate ideas and arguments effectively, particularly regarding using computer applications
  • Formulate and justify their own arguments incorporating computer applications
  • An ability to use a range of information technology resources to assist with information retrieval and assignment presentation
  • Time management skills and an ability to independently to organise their own study methods and workload.
  • Work effectively with others as part of a team or group in seminar or tutorial discussions.

Suggested book purchases


Suggested preparatory reading

Lock, G. R.  2003. Using computers in archaeology: towards virtual pasts. London:Routledge.

Lock, G. R. and Brown, K. (eds) 2000. On the theory and practice of archaeological computing. Oxford: Oxford university Committee for Archaeology.

Shennan, S. 1997. Quantifying archaeology. 2nd edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Wheatley, D., Earl, G. and Poppy, S. (eds) 2002. Contemporary themes in archaeological computing. Oxford: Oxbow Books.