The University of Southampton

ARCH3044 GIS for Archaeology

Module Overview

This module aims to acquaint you with Geographic Information Systems including their use for mapping and analysing archaeological sites and landscapes, and to explain the broader context of their application to a range of archaeological research and management problems. You will gain practical experience of how to design, implement and document spatial databases for archaeology. You will also be introduced to the acquisition and processing of spatial data from both traditional (maps and surveys) sources and also from new sources including remote-sensing, LiDAR and differential GPS.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to introduce you to Geographic Information Systems and their application to the analysis of archaeological landscapes.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Having successfully completed this module you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how Archaeology has used GIS in the past, and how it has contributed to theoretical and methodological development of landscape archaeology.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Having successfully completed this module you will be able to work with Geographic Information Systems in many disciplines. You will be able to design and implement spatial databases using industry-standard GIS software, and will have a sound grasp of the principles of a range of spatial technologies. In addition, you will develop skills that will enable you to solve problems by referring to documentation and online sources.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Having successfully completed this module you will be able to represent, map and analyse archaeological data with GIS and grasp the archaeological implications of new sources of spatial data (such as LiDAR and GPS).


Typically the syllabus will cover the following topics: • Introduction to GIS • Understanding and making maps • Spatial databases and metadata • Elevation models and their products • Remote sensing and aerial survey (LiDAR etc.) • Sites, territories and distance • GPS survey data and geodetics • Visibility and intervisibility • Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) and GIS

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be a combination of: • Lectures on the theory and practice of spatial technology, and on the ways in which these have been applied to archaeological research and management; • Practical classes in which you will be encouraged to develop practical ability to design and implement spatial databases, and to analyse archaeological spatial information.

Wider reading or practice20
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Practical classes and workshops24
Follow-up work24
Completion of assessment task60
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Burrough, P. A. and R. A. McDonnell (1998). Principles of geographic information systems. 

Lock, G.R. and Molyneaux B.L (2006). Confronting scale in archaeology. 

Lock, G.R. and Stancic, Z (1995). Archaeology and geographical information systems: a European perspective. 

Wheatley D & Gillings M (2002). Spatial technology and archaeology. 

Chapman H (2006). Landscape Archaeology and GIS. 

Allen, K.M.S., Green, S. and Zubrow, E.B.W (1990). Interpreting space: GIS and archaeology, Applications of Geographic Information Systems. 

Maschner, H.D.G (1996). New methods, old problems: geographical information systems in modern archaeological research. 

Lock G.R (2000). Beyond the map: archaeology and spatial technologies. 

Aldenderfer, M. and Maschner, H.D.G (1996). Anthropology, space and geographic information systems, Spatial information series. 

DeMers, M. N (1997). Fundamentals of geographic information systems. 

Conolly J and Lake M (2006). Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology. 

Westcott, K.L. and Brandon, R.J. (2000). Practical applications of GIS for archaeologists: a predictive modelling kit. 

Bodenhamer DJ, Corrigan J and Harris TM (2010). The spatial humanities: GIS and the future of humanities scholarship.. 



Practical exercise


MethodPercentage contribution
Practical 65%
Presentation 35%


MethodPercentage contribution
Practical 100%
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