Archaeologies of Space, Place, and GIS

Module code: AR3047

Module co-ordinator: Dr Mark Gillings

  • Why is an effective understanding of space and place central to the discipline of archaeology?
  • How have archaeologists (Philosophers, Anthropologists, Geographers and Historians) conceptualised and studied the inherent spatiality of past social life?
  • What theoretical and practical considerations underpin the application of GIS?
  • How can we use GIS to carry out qualitative, quantitative and experiential spatial analyses?

This module concerns the inherent spatiality of past human social life and the ways in which spatial technologies such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) can be used to explore and interpret it. Following a general historical overview of spatial approaches in Archaeology and more detailed theoretical and practical discussion of some of the key approaches adopted, you will then be introduced to the theory and practice of archaeological GIS. Through a series of detailed sessions we will use GIS to explore:

  • abstract conceptualisations of space and the measurement of spatial patterns
  • socially-embedded spaces and the centrality of place
  • representations of space and the role of mapping. 

Topics covered

  • What is space?
  • Abstract spaces? a neutral backdrop to social life; how we recognise, measure and explain spatial patterns
  • Meaningful places? embedded within and inseparable from social life.
  • Exploring space and place: patterns, distributions, experience, encounter and memory – synergies and tensions
  • Constructing space: how archaeologists have begun to analyse the inherent spatiality of the built environment
  • What is GIS, how does it work and what are archaeologists doing with it?
  • Practical 1 - creating a spatial database
  • Practical 2 - analysing spaces with GIS
  • Practical 3 - exploring places with GIS
  • Practical 4 - creating maps and interactive visualisations

Learning

  • 6 two-hour lectures
  • 4 two-hour practical sessions
  • 3 one-hour practical workshops

Assessment

  • 2,500-word essay (40%)
  • 3,500-word project (60%)