GIS and Anthropology - Fall 2006 Syllabus

Anth 197: GIS in Anthropology -- Fall 2006

Nicholas Tripcevich
University of California, Santa Barbara

Please see the newer content for the semester-long course
"Geospatial Archaeology"
that I taught for UC Berkeley Anthropology Spring 2015.

Course description: This class aims to provide the theoretical and methodological background for proficient use of GIS in anthropological research contexts with a focus on archaeological applications. As geospatial technologies have also become pervasive tools for data organization and for communication, this class will focus on teaching through hands-on experience with acquiring and managing data, analysis, and map production. There is a great deal we cannot cover in a ten week quarter, and so in the lab assignments the aim is to learn problem-solving skills and common research tools in GIS.

Meeting times: Class will be held on Mondays from 2 – 4:30pm. We will meet in the classroom in HSSB 2001a and in the large room of the LSIT computer lab in HSSB 1203. My office hours are Monday 4:30 – 6 pm in the same lab space (HSSB 1203), and Thursday 1-2:30 pm in the lab room. Please get your labs started early so that you can catch me during office hours for any help you might 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 paper consisting of a 5 page paper in the form of a proposal for GIS-based research, and students will present a 10 minute summary of a case-study I have listed on a longer bibliography posted on the class website.

Your grade in the course will be weighted as follows:

  • 10% - Short in class presentation and class/web participation
  • 20% - Lab assignments
  • 30% - Midterm
  • 40% - Final project

Software: This course is based on the ESRI ArcGIS 9 suite of software. For data manipulation and statistical analyses outside of ArcGIS we will use Microsoft Access and JMP 5.1. Additional web-based tools and presentation media will be involved.

USB pen drive required: No data can be stored on the computers in the LSIT lab as new files are deleted whenever the machines reboot. We must store our data on USB drives and everyone is required to have one (256Mb or larger) for the class. Online USB 2 drives are $25 shipped (512mb model at Amazon), so they have become relatively affordable.

Readings: Required readings need to be done before class.

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

Additional readings will be photocopies primarily from the following books:

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

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

Course Outline and Required Reading Assignments

Week 1 – Course introduction, general discussion and lab work.


Week 2 – GIS organization and output - Lab 1 due.

Readings for class during week 2: Wheatley, D., and M. Gillings (2002). Spatial technology and archaeology: the archaeological applications of GIS. London: Taylor & Francis, Ch. 1.

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

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

Editing in ArcMap, (2004), ESRI Press, Ch2.


Week 3 – New data acquisition and input methods.

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

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

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


Week 4 – Thematic maps, buffers, and overlays – Lab 2 due.

Readings : Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 4, Ch 6, and pp 147-149.

Using ArcMap (2004) ESRI Press, Ch 1.


Week 5 – Rasters, surfaces, and continuous data

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

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.

Modeling our World (2002), ESRI Press, pp147-160.


Week 6 – Midterm. Demography, community mapping, and management.

Readings : Goodchild and Janelle (2004). "Thinking spatially in the social sciences," in Spatially integrated social science. Edited by Goodchild and Janelle, pp. 3-22. Oxford: OUP.

Weeks, J. R. (2004). "The role of spatial analysis in demographic research," in Spatially integrated social science. Edited by Goodchild and Janelle, pp. 381-399. Oxford: OUP.

Aswani and Lauer (2006). Incorporating fishermen’s local knowledge and behavior into Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for designing marine protected areas in Oceania. Human Organization 65:81-102.


Week 7 – Quantifying patterns I – Lab 3 due.

Readings : Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 6 and Ch 11.


Week 8 – Locational modeling.

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

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. Edited by K. Wescott and R. J. Brandon, pp. 59-72. London: Taylor and Francis.

Ebert, J. I. (2000). "The State of the Art in ‘Inductive’ Predictive Modeling" in Practical applications of GIS for archaeologists. Edited by K. Wescott and R. J. Brandon, pp. 59-72. London: Taylor and Francis.


Week 9 – Cost-surfaces and viewshed analysis – Lab 4 due.

Readings : Wheatley and Gillings (2002), C 10.

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.

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

Week 10 – Interpolation and kriging

Readings : Wheatley and Gillings (2002), Ch 9.


Final projects due on the day of the final on Tues, December 12, 4pm.