Course Syllabus


ANTHROPOLOGY 128M: Special Topics in Archaeology/Method : Geospatial Archaeology (4 units)

Lecture & Labs: Tuesday and Thursday 9:10am - 12pm in Barrows 61 
Class Website: 
Data Folder:

Lecturer: Dr. Nicholas Tripcevich 
Office: Room 216 College 2251 Building (ARF)
Office Hours: Wed. 2-3pm, Thurs 1-3 or by appt.

GSI : Lisa Johnson
Office Hours in Barrows: Wed 1-2, Fri 12-1 or by appt.

Course Description:

This class aims to provide the theoretical and methodological background for conducting archaeological research using a digital workflow focused on geospatial technologies for fieldwork and analysis. The course will consider the history and critique of Geographical Information Science in archaeological research, and then move into applied concepts. The course will provide hands-on experience with acquiring and managing data, summarizing results, spatial analysis, and map production.

Course Goals:

· A theoretical background on the development of GIS and geospatial technologies in archaeology

· The ability to design research strategies that make use of a digital workflow and emerging geospatial tools.

· Techniques for assembling relevant spatial datasets for a given study area and ensuring their analytical compatibility.

· The analysis of spatial patterns and geographically situated archaeological phenomena.

· Approaches to disseminating and archiving results emphasizing digital methods. These include summary statistics, detailed data sets for archaeological reports, and map design using established cartographic principles.

Meeting times :

The course meets 9:10am to noon on Tuesday and Thursday in Barrows 61. Office hours with the instructor and GSI are provided above. Please come with questions regarding the readings, Lab assignments, and Midterm/Final projects.
If you are sponsored by the Disabled Students Association please have their office contact me with information regarding your special accommodations. We will gladly and discretely do our best to make sure that you are comfortable.
Please get your labs started early so that you can meet with us during office hours for any help you may need.

Assignments and Grading

The course outline and reading assignments are listed below. The course will be organized around labs and the development of a dataset for a study area that becomes your final project. There will also be a midterm (short answer and take home essay that is essentially a short proposal for spatial research in archaeology). The Final is a project involving spatial analysis and GIS in a region you have focused on using two or more of the tools covered in the class. Are students expected to respond to the reading assignment for each class with questions or comments on the bCourses Assignment. These responds provide the instructor with feedback on student grasp of the material. Students are expected to attend all lectures and labs, as it is an important part of your participation grade.
Late work will be accepted but we will dock points for each day it is late.

In-Class Exercises are marked Complete/incomplete and contribute to the 10% Class Participation grade. In-Class Exercise assignments will be accepted for one week after the day they are due because these are primarily to serve as an introduction to new software tools that you'll also apply elsewhere on your own datasets. 

Grade policy: Students who want to dispute a grade must contact the instructor within 48 hours of posting. See the Berkeley grading policies online.

Academic Integrity: The student community at UC Berkeley has adopted the following Honor Code: "As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others." The hope and expectation is that you will adhere to this code. Please see the Berkeley Academic Integrity page for more information.

While in-class assignments and some course projects will be collaborative, the graded Lab Assignments, the Midterm and portions of the Final are your own work demonstrating your grasp of the material.

Grade Evaluation:

10% - In-Class Exercises and class/web participation in reading discussion
20% - Lab assignments
30% - Midterm
40% - Final project


This course is based primarily on the ESRI ArcGIS 10 suite of software although we will explore other tools including Google products. For statistical analyses outside of ArcGIS we will use R. We will also make use of web-based tools and presentation media. ArcGIS is unfortunately only available for Windows but note that Microsoft Windows and VMWare for Mac are available as free downloads for Berkeley students at


Required text: Wheatley, David and Mark Gillings (2002). Spatial Technology and Archaeology. Taylor & Francis, New York.

Recommended Additional Books:

Some of the assigned chapters come from the following books. These books in their entirety are recommended as supplemental reading.

Aldenderfer, Mark and Herbert D.G. Maschner, editors (1996). Anthropology, Space, and Geographic Information Systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Connolly, James and Mark Lake (2006). Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology. Manuals in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Goodchild, Michael F., and Donald G. Janelle (2004). Spatially integrated social science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lock, Gary R., editor (2000). Beyond the map: Archaeology and spatial technologies. IOS Press, Washington, DC

ESRI ArcGIS Desktop Online Help

Westcott, Konnie L. and R. Joe Brannon, editors (2000). Practical Applications of GIS for Archaeologists: a Predictive Modeling Toolkit. Taylor & Francis, N.Y.

Bevan, Andrew and Lake, Mark 2013. Computational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA

Zieler, M. (1999). Modeling our World. ESRI Press.

Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments
Required readings need to be done before class.
Note: Check back to the syllabus and assignments as some readings may be added up to one week before the due date.

Week 1 (Jan 20-22) - Intro Discussion. GIS organization and output

Readings for class on Jan 22:

Wheatley, D., and M. Gillings (2002). Ch. 1 Introduction in Spatial technology and archaeology: the archaeological applications of GIS . London: Taylor & Francis.

Connolly, J., and M. Lake (2006). Ch 2 of Geographical Information Systems in ArchaeologyManuals in Archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

ArcGIS Desktop Help: A Quick Tour of Arcmap, ArcMap Vocabulary, Symbolizing Features.


Week 2 (Jan 27-29) - New data acquisition and input methods. Lab 1 due

Jan 27 : Guest lecture: Susan Powell (McCone library GIS librarian).

Readings: Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 2 and Ch 3.

Goodchild, (2005).Geographic information systems. In Encyclopedia of Social Measurement 2: 107-113.

Modeling our World (2002), ESRI Press, Ch 2 and Ch 3.

ArcGIS Desktop Help: Tour of Editing 

Bevan and Lake 2013. Ch 1 Introduction. Computational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA

Dent (1998). Map Design Ch 13 of Cartography5th Ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

McPherron and Dibble (2002), Mapping Equipment (pp 54-64) in Using computers in archaeology: A practical guide. Boston: McGraw-Hill.


Week 3 (Feb 3-5) - Thematic maps, buffers, and overlays

Readings: Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 4 

ArcGIS Desktop Help: "Geoprocessing - Commonly used tools" entire section

Llobera (2012). Life on a Pixel: Challenges in the Development of Digital Methods Within an "Interpretive" Landscape Archaeology Framework. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19-4:495-509.

Ur, Jason (2006), Google Earth and ArchaeologyArchaeological Record 6(3):35-38.


Week 4 (Feb 10-12) - Representing Results

Readings: Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 6 

ArcGIS Desktop Help. Symbolizing layers to represent quantity

Kosiba and Bauer (2013). Mapping the Political Landscape: Toward a GIS Analysis of Environmental and Social Difference. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20-1:61-101.


Week 5 (Feb 17-19) - Rasters, surfaces, and continuous data -- Lab II due.

Readings: Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 5.

Modeling our World (2002), ESRI Press, pp182-212

Tobler (1979). A Transformational View of Cartography. American Cartographer 6:101-106.

Kvamme (1998). "Spatial structure in mass debitage scatters" in Surface Archaeology. Edited by Sullivan, pp. 127-141. Albuquerque: UNM Press.


Week 6 (Feb 24-26) - Predictive locational modeling.

Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 7 and Ch 8.

Verhagen, P. and T.G. Whitley (2012).Integrating Archaeological Theory and Predictive Modeling: a Live Report from the Scene. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19 (2012), 49-100.

Wescott, K., and J. A. Kuiper (2000). "Using a GIS to model prehistoric site distributions in the upper Chesapeake Bay," in Practical applications of GIS for archaeologists (Links to an external site.). Edited by K. Wescott and R. J. Brandon, pp. 59-72. London: Taylor and Francis

Feb 26 Guest Lecture: Patrick V. Kirch - GIS Modeling of prehistoric agricultural systems in Hawai'i

Kurashima, N. and P. V. Kirch (2011) Geospatial modeling of pre-contact Hawaiian production systems on Molokaʻi Island, Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2011) 3662-3674.

Ladefoged, et al (2011) Agricultural potential and actualized development in Hawai’i: an airborne LiDAR survey of the leeward Kohala field system (Hawai’i Island). Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2011) 3605-3619.


Week 7 (Mar 3 - 5) - Quantifying patterns I. -- Lab III due

Readings: Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 11.

Tripcevich Survey Design, Starting with "5.4.4. Survey design".View in a new window Six pages from my 2007 dissertation describing survey design behind the Upper Colca project survey. The Callalli dataset is Block3 (Valley section).

Premo (2004) Local spatial autocorrelation statistics quantify multi-scale patterns in distributional data: an example from the Maya Lowlands, Journal of Archaeological Science. Volume 31, Issue 7, July 2004, Pages 855–866.


Week 8 (Mar 10 - 12) - Midterm. Scripting using ArcGIS Model Builder

Exercise 1 in Getting to know Model Builder (Bradt, 2008)

March 12 - Midterm. Study Guide is Online.


Week 9 (Mar 17 - 19) .- Historical Archaeology and GIS.

March 17 Guest lecture: Jun Sunseri -- Berry, J.W. (2003) "Historic Sanborn Maps in the Digital Age: City of New Orleans". Journal of GIS in Archaeology, Volume I.

Madry, S. (2006) "The Integration of Historical Cartographic Data within the GIS Environment" in Between Dirt and Discussion: Methods, Methodology, and Interpretation in Historical Archaeology edited by Archer and Bartoy. New York: Springer. pp 33-60.

Bitelli, G., Gatta, G. (2012) Georeferencing of an XVIII century technical map of Bologna (Italy). e-Perimetron, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2012 [195-204].

Further reading

Gregory, Ian (2002). A Place in History: A Guide to Using GIS in Historical Research. AHDS Guide to Good Practice (King's College London).

Grossinger, R., Askevold, R. and J. Collins (2005) T-Sheet User Guide (PDF). San Francisco Estuary Institute Report No. 427
Project site:


Week skipped (Mar 24 - 26) - Spring Break


Week 10 (Mar 31 - Apr 2) - GIS and archaeological geophysics 

March 31 - Guest lecture: Peter Nelson (Anthropology) 

McCoy, M.D. and T.N. Ladefoged, 2009. "New Developments in the Use of Spatial Technology in Archaeology". Journal of Archaeological Research 17, 263-295.

Renfrew and Bahn, 2012. Archaeology, section on geophysics and ground-based detection pp 97-103.

Apr 2 - Kvamme, K., 2007 "Integrating Multiple High Resolution Geophysical Data Sets". In Remote Sensing in ArchaeologyWiseman and El-Baz, editors, Plenum Publishers, New York, pp. 345-375. 

Lab IV: Beautiful base map is due


Week 11 (Apr 7 - 9) - Cost-surfaces and viewshed analysis.

Readings 11.1:

Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 10. 

Lake, M. W., P. E. Woodman, and S. J. Mithen (1998) "Tailoring GIS software for archaeological applications: an example concerning viewshed analysis."Journal of Archaeological Science 25.1: 27-38.

Reading 11.2: 

Bell, Tyler and Gary Lock (2000) Topographic and cultural influences on walking the Ridgeway in later prehistoric times In Beyond the map: Archaeology and spatial technologies, edited by Gary R. Lock, pp. 28-48. IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp. 85-100.

Additional Materials:

Van Leusen, P. M. (2002). Methodological Investigations into the Formation and Interpretation of Spatial Patterns in Archaeological Landscapes, Ch. 6, Ph.D. Dissertation.

Tschan, André P., Wldozimierz Raczkowski and Malgorzata Latalowa (2000). Perception and viewsheds: Are they mutually exclusive? In Beyond the map: Archaeology and spatial technologies, edited by Gary R. Lock, pp. 28-48. IOS Press, Amsterdam.


Week 12 (Apr 14, Apr 16 is the SAA) - Web mapping and outreach -- Lab V due

McCool, J-P.P. (2014). "PRAGIS: A test case for web-based archaeological GIS". Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 41, pp. 133-139.

Law, Derek (2014). Portal for ArcGIS 101. ESRI.


Week 13 (Apr 21 - 23) - Mobile GIS 

Apr 23 Guest Lecture by Chris J. Ames (UC Berkeley Postdoctoral Scholar, Anthropology)

Alleen-Willems, R. (2013) ArchaeoLINK  evaluation posted at Diachronic Design

Smith and Levy (2012) Real-time 3D archaeological field recording: ArchField, an open-source GIS system pioneered in southern Jordan. Antiquity.

Tripcevich and Wernke (2010) On-Site Recording of Excavation Data Using Mobile GIS.Journal of Field Archaeology 35.4 (2010): 380-397. 

Supplementary Materials

Ross et al. (2013). Creating eResearch tools for archaeologists: The federated archaeological information management systems project. Australian Archaeology 77: 107-119.

Tripcevich (2004). "Flexibility by Design: How mobile GIS meets the needs of archaeological survey". Cartography and GIS Vol 31, No. 3, pp 137-151.

McPherron and Dibble (2007). 12v. Archaeological Record, vol 7, no 4, 35-41.


Week 14 (Apr 28 - 30) - Data Curation and Archiving for Archaeology -- Lab VI due Thursday

Tuesday 4/28 Guest lecture by Eric Kansa (Open Context). 

Issues including suitable formats for archiving and restructuring. Discipline specific repositories: OpenContext, tDAR and other repositories including those hosted by institutions, libraries, and journals. Articles by Kansa, FedArch, others.

Kansa EC, Kansa SW and Arbuckle B (2014) Publishing and Pushing: Mixing Models for Communicating Research Data in ArchaeologyInternational Journal of Digital Curation 9(1): 57–70. 

Kansa, Eric C., and Sarah Whitcher Kansa. (2013) We All Know That a 14 Is a Sheep: Data Publication and Professionalism in Archaeological Communication Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 1(1):88–97.

Thursday 4/30:

Morgan and Eve (2012). DIY and digital archaeology: what are you doing to participate? World Archaeology 44(4):521-537.

Ross, S., A. Sobotkova, B. Ballsun-Stanton, P. Crook (2013) Creating eresearch tools for archaeologists: The Federated Archaeological Information Management Systems project. Australian Archaeology number 77 107-119.

Week 15 Dead Week (May 5 - 7)

Finals Week: Final projects are due on the day of the final at 11:30am on Wednesday May 13. Please print and bring your final project essay to room 216 in the ARF (2251 College) and post the digital materials (link to online content and color PDFs) on bCourses. 

Course Summary:

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