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Computational Methods in Archaeology


Admission requirements

  • BA or BSc degree in Archaeology or a closely related discipline;

  • Admission to the MSc Archaeology programme Archaeological Science with first focus area Digital Archaeology;

  • BA2 courses Data Analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (or other undergraduate courses in Digital Archaeology deemed to be equivalent by the instructor) obtained.


This course will provide an in-depth treatment of one of the sub-fields of Digital Archaeology presented in the Digital Data Acquisition and Analysis course. In the academic year 2018-2019, the topic of this course will be “3D Modelling in Archaeology”.

The use of 3D modelling techniques to digitally “reconstruct” (partially) lost archaeological evidence has increased dramatically in the last years. The most widespread field of application of 3D visualisations traditionally relates to their use for heritage valorisation, but their contribution as research and analytical tools to aid the archaeological interpretation is also gaining increasing attention.

Through a combination of frontal and practical lessons, this course will familiarise you with the latest developments in this field. You will get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art 3D modelling techniques to “reconstruct” and visualise multi-scale archaeological evidence (landscape, building, artefact), focusing especially on the use of open source and free software packages.
This course will moreover introduce you to alternative modelling approaches (such as procedural modelling), to the analytical possibilities offered by the integration of 3D models into GIS, and to the potential of Virtual Reality applications in archaeology.

Special attention will be given to the creation of 3D models as an intellectually transparent process and to their application as research tools to test theories and explore different interpretations of the available dataset. As final project, you will develop your own 3D model of a topic of your choice.

Course objectives

  • Ability to create your own 3D model using the free and open source software Blender;

  • Gain familiarity with the main methods and software packages that are currently available to create 3D visualisations;

  • Good understanding of the range of applications of 3D modelling in present-day archaeology and the interoperability between different software packages;

  • Ability to identify research questions that can be investigated by using 3D modelling techniques and the most appropriate methodology to tackle them;

  • Ability to develop a workflow for the creation of a scientifically sound and intellectually transparent 3D visualisation.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Self-guided tutorials;

  • Practical assignments;

  • Reading assignments.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures and practical work in class (1 ec);

  • 40 hours of practical work at home (2 ec);

  • 140 pages of literature (1 ec);

  • Essay of 1,500-1,800 words (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignments (40%);

  • Final project (practical and written report) (60%).

There is only a retake for the final assignment.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.

Reading list

A selection of relevant articles will be indicated during the course.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact C. (Chiara) Piccoli MA.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Depending on the amount of participants, you might be required to bring your own laptop for the practical lessons;

  • The number of participants is limited to 20, due to limited availability of spaces in the computer lab. Students who need to take this course for their 1st or 2nd focus area will be prioritised.