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The University of Southampton

ARCH2029 Digging Data: quantitative data analysis in Archaeology

Module Overview

Archaeology is an immensely data-rich activity that records the characteristics of sites, landscapes and artefacts, sometimes in great detail. Making sense of that data often relies on quantitative or statistical methods to identify patterns, associations and relationships. This module aims to provide students (who do not necessarily have a recent background in maths or statistics) with some statistical concepts and methods, and the knowledge to apply them using readily available software (spreadsheets). It aims to deliver understanding of a range of ideas about quantitative approaches to archaeology from how to make better graphs to how we can phrase archaeological questions in a range of quantitative ways. During the module, you will learn about graphical representations of numerical data, descriptive statistics and summaries of single variables; the normal distribution; statistical inference; some measures of association between two variables and ways to explore relationships between numeric variables using correlation and regression.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Numerical and statistical description of single variables
  • Statistical inference and significance
  • The normal distribution and sampling
  • Correlation and regression
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand some key statistical concepts
  • Express archaeological questions in quantitative ways
  • Evaluate, describe and analyse archaeological datasets
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work effectively with functions and expressions in spreadsheets
  • Describe archaeological quantitative data using graphs
  • Perform simple standard statistical tests for association and significance
  • Perform correlation and regression analyses
  • Use a computer to undertake numerical analysis


The syllabus introduces a range of basic quantitative and statistical methods including: • Measurement levels and graphical summaries of numerical variables • Descriptive statistics and numerical summaries of single variables • Statistical inference, measures of association, the chi-squared and Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests • Normal and t distributions, confidence intervals and sampling • Studying relationships between numeric variables using correlation and regression • Statistical inference and some simple measures of association between two variables • Introduction to multiple regression and other multivariate methods

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Numerical and statistical concepts and methods are introduced in lectures, which are supported by computer- based practical classes to reinforce learning. Short statistical exercises are set to be undertaken outside of contact hours. The module also expects students to develop skills in spreadsheets (formulae, functions, numerical data processing). Because of the different level of students’ skills on entry to the module, students are guided to self-led online resources for this purpose. Teaching methods include • Online and offline courses and resources (for spreadsheet skills) • Lectures • Computer-based practical classes • Project surgeries Learning activities include • Set reading and statistical exercises • Independent work in preparation for data analysis project • Exam preparation

Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Follow-up work30
Wider reading or practice10
Completion of assessment task20
Project supervision4
Practical classes and workshops24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Fletcher, M and Lock GR (1991). Digging numbers. 

Shennan, SJ (1997). Quantifying Archaeology. 

Baxter MJ (2003). Statistics in archaeology. 

Drennan RD (1996). Statistics for archaeologists: a commonsense approach. 

Tufte ER (1983). The visual display of quantitative information. 

Orton, C (2000). Sampling in Archaeology. 

Thomas, DH (1986). Refiguring Anthropology. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Data analysis project  (2000 words) 60%
Test 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Data analysis project 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Copies are in the library, students may wish to purchase a copy of the module’s core text “Shennan, SJ 1997 Quantifying Archaeology”. This is around £28 new, but second-hand copies can be obtained for less.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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