Graduate Program in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology

ARHM017. Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology. Zhivko Uzunov

Practical lab course, 30 hours, 3 credits

The aim of the course is to introduce students to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in archaeology.  Specialized GIS-software has proven very useful in the spatial analysis of archaeological data such as settlement patterns, site locations, and find distributions in activity areas. Students attending the course will learn how to create a GIS-database, make thematic maps, and analyze information about sites, artifacts, and landscapes. The course tries to keep a balance between technical skills, software competence, and theory of spatial analysis in archaeology.




Number of hours


Introduction to GIS. Applications in archaeology



Settlement patterns in archaeology



Using GIS Software: ARCGIS, QGIS.



Cartographic design and map projections



Creating features and attribute tables



Basic analytic tools



Spatial analysis with raster and vector data



Spatial analysis of settlement and sites



Terrain and viewshed analyses



Using predictive models for archaeological site location



Least cost path analysis for predicting potential roads



GIS solutions for surface surveying in archaeology



Summary and Grading



Essential readings:

Barndt, M. 1998. Public Participation GIS - Barriers to Implementation. Cartography and Geographic Information Systems 25

Brandt R., Groenewoudt B.J., Kvamme K.L. 1992. An Experiment in Archaeological Site Location: Modeling in the Netherlands Using GIS Techniques. World Archaeology 24, 268-282.

Christopherson G.L., Guertin D.P., Kunzmann M.R., Potter T., Kvamme K.L. 1993. Comparison of Interpolation Algorithms for Digital Elevation Model Generation and Subsequent Viewshed Analysis. In Proceedings of the First Biennial Conference on Research in Colorado Plateau National Parks, Transactions and Proceedings Series 10, P.G. Rowlands, C. van Riper III, and M.K. Sogge, eds., National Park Service, Natural Resources Publication Office, Denver, 226-233.

Kvamme, K.L. 1989. Geographic Information Systems in Regional Archaeological Research and Data Management. Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 1, M.B. Schiffer, ed., University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 139-202.

Kvamme, K.L. 1993. Computer Methods: Geographic Information Systems (Appendix B). In Stress and Warfare Among the Kayenta Anasazi of the Thirteenth Century A.D., by J. Haas and W. Creamer, Fieldiana Anthropology, New Series, No. 21, Publication 1450, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, 171-180.

Kvamme, K.L. 1994. Ranter's Corner -- GIS Graphics vs. Spatial Statistics: How Do They Fit Together? Archaeological Computing Newsletter 38, 1-2.

Kvamme, K.L. 1995. A View From Across the Water: The North American Experience in Archaeological GIS. In Archaeology and Geographical Information Systems: A European Perspective, G. Lock and Z. Stancic, eds., Taylor and Francis, Ltd., London, 1-14.

Kvamme, K.L. 1997. Archaeological Spatial Analysis Using GIS: Methods and Issues. In Sistemi Informativi e Reti Geografiche in Archeologia: GIS - Internet, A. Gottarelli, ed., Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Universita degli Studi di Siena, Sienna, Italy, 45-58.

Kvamme, K.L. 2006. There and Back Again: Revisiting Archaeological Location Modeling, In GIS and Archaeological Predictive Modeling, M.W. Mehrer and K. Wescott, eds., CRC-Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, 3-38.

Stancic Z. Kvamme K.L. 1999. Settlement Pattern Modelling Through Boolean Overlays of Social and Environmental Variables. In New Techniques for Old Times, CAA98, J.A. Barcelo, I. Briz, and A. Vila, eds., BAR International Series 757, Tempus Reparatum, Oxford, 231-237.

Verhagen, P. 2017 Spatial analysis in archaeology: moving into new territories. In: C. Siart et al. (eds.) Digital Geoarchaeology, Natural Science in Archaeology, Springer, 2017, 11- 24.