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The University of Southampton

ARCH6133 Digital Imaging Methods for Archaeologists

Module Overview

This module aims to introduce you to the theory and practice of a range of digital imaging methods used in archaeology, including techniques for capture of suitable images, data processing and presentation. The module will provide an overview of digital image capture for archaeology, including the basics of photographic technique, and will then introduce a range of more advanced techniques for processing digital photographic data including Reflectance Transformation Imaging, high dynamic range imaging and focus stacking.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Understand the technical aspects of photography that control image sharpness, resolution, noise and depth of field; • Understand the principles of digital image processing with point processors and convolution operators; • Learn how to manipulate digital images in standard ways using image processing software; • Apply a range of advanced image processing techniques to archaeological materials and situations.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Selecting and using digital cameras and image sensors for archaeological tasks;
  • Storing and processing digital image data for archaeological work;
  • Selecting and applying more advanced methods of image processing in archaeology.


Typically the syllabus will cover the following topics: Introduction to photographic technique Digital imaging and sensors Storage and archiving of digital image data Capturing digital images and scanning photographic media Understanding and using the image histogram Manipulating images for contrast, colour, sharpness etc. Beyond the visible spectrum: infrared, ultraviolet and multi-spectral images High dynamic range image capture and processing Reflectance Transformation Imaging Digital photogrammetry

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include lectures, supervised practical exercises and surgeries conducted periodically during the module to assist learning and evaluate progress. As with other PGT modules, you will be provided with extensive online support in the form of module documentation, example data, module specific and general tutorials, links to other online resources, and a module discussion list. A key activity will be the ‘Image of the Week’ sessions. Before each of these, you will capture an image using the methods we have studied and you will present a brief commentary in class on the methods used to create it. These images, plus your written-up commentaries and technical notes, will build up to form a portfolio of images that will constitute the assessment for this module.

Wider reading or practice32
Practical classes and workshops24
Project supervision2
Completion of assessment task80
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Woolliscroft D (2010). Thoughts on the suitability of digital photography for archaeological recording. Institute for Archaeologists. .

Fischer LJ (2009b). Photography for archaeologists. Part II Artefact Recording. 

Richards JD, Robinson D (2000). Digital archives from excavation and fieldwork : a guide to good practice. 

BAJR (2006). Short guide to Digital Photography in Archaeology. BAJR Guide. 

Verhoeven G (2010). It's all about the format - unleashing the power of RAW aerial photography. International Journal of Remote Sensing. ,31 , pp. 2009-2042.

Fischer LJ (2009a). Photography for archaeologists. Part I: Site Specific. 

Verhoeven G (2008). Imaging the invisible using modified digital still cameras for straightforward and low-cost archaeological near-infrared photography. Journal of archaeological Science. ,35 , pp. 3087-3100.

Dorrell PG (1994). Photography in archaeology and conservation. 

JISC Digital Media Website.

Brown DH (2007). Archaeological Archives: A guide to best practice in creation, compilation, transfer and curation. 

Earl G, Martinez K, Malzbender T (2010). Archaeological applications of polynomial texture mapping: analysis, conservation and representation. Journal of Archaeological Science. ,37 .



Image assignments


MethodPercentage contribution
Image portfolio with commentary  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Image portfolio with commentary 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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