Spatial Analysis in Archaeology

Kathy Kamp


Goodnow 208




Please contact me for appointments via email or just drop by. I am in most days 8-5, but teach MWF 8-9 and 11-12, W 1-4, and TTH 8:30-10.


Goals of the Course


1.      Understand SOME of theoretical approaches anthropologists, especially archaeologists, have used to analyze the ways humans utilize space.

2.      Learn how to use the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software ArcGIS to analyze spatial data.

3.      Complete a major project of your choosing and present it at the poster session of the Iowa Academy of Sciences in April. 

Basic course Organization 


The class will be structured around 3 lecture/discussion sessions and a full afternoon lab.  Generally there will be articles to read and discuss and/or lectures, when appropriate, on Monday and Wednesday.  Wednesday afternoon is the lab.  Most labs we will attack archaeological problems via ArcMap, a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software and other relevant computer programs such as statistical packages.  Normally, there will be no assigned readings for Friday, but the lab exercises will be due and we will spend at least part of class time discussing them.



As is appropriate to a seminar, a major portion of the course will be devoted to individual projects on spatial patterning.   I will provide some project suggestions that I am pretty sure will “work”; other project topics are possible, but you need to convince me well ahead of time that your project is a) interesting and b) feasible.  This will entail being able to demonstrate that the necessary data is available to you and you know how to find it.  The deadline for alternative project proposals is September 12.  The proposal MUST include information about the sources of the spatial data you will use.  You must be able to convince me that you are able to access the spatial data you need and that it will be of sufficient quality to complete your project.

START WORK ON YOUR PROJECTS SOON.  These things ALWAYS  take longer than you anticipate.


Grading-Grades will be based on the following components:

  1. Attendance and participation—10% 
  2. Lab write-ups—40%  NOTE: Late labs will not be accepted. 
  3. Literature Review—20%
  4. Final project presentation and poster—30%

Introduction: The Importance of Space and Context

Week 1      

Friday 8/29—Introduction—Overview of the class, brainstorming about space and culture

The social meaning of space  
Week 2

Monday 9/1 


Hall, Edward T.  1966.  The Hidden Dimension, Chs. 9, 10, 12, pp. 102-129, 149-164.  New York: Doubleday.


Goffman,  Erving.  1959.  The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Ch. 11, pp. 106-140.  New York: Doubleday.


Wednesday 9/3


Sørensen, Marie Louise Stig  2000.  The Engendering of Space.  In Gender Archaeology, pp. 144-167.  Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press.


Spain, Daphne  1992.  Space and Status.  Gendered Spaces, pp.  3-29.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.


Read the pre-lab handout before lab.


Lab 1 Visualizing Spatial Data/Making Pretty Maps


Friday 9/5 No reading; finish making your map and bring it to class.  We will learn how to set it up as a final map with a scale, etc.


Week 3


Monday 9/8


Lévi-Strauss, Claude  1963.  Structural Anthropology, Ch. 8,  pp. 132-163.  New York: Basic Books.


Wednesday 9/10 The Distribution of Traits Across Space


Driver, Harold E.  1961.  Indians of North America, Ch. 8, pp. 116-135 and Maps 2 and 15-19.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Hodder, Ian  1978.  The Maintenance of Group Identities in the Baringo District, W. Kenya.  In Social Organization and Setlement: contributions from anthropology, Archaeology and Geography, Part I, edited by D. Green, C. Haselgrove, and M. Spriggs, pp. 47–73.  Oxford: BAR International Series 47.


Lab 2 Looking for Patterns


Friday 9/12

Project topic due 

Environment/Ecology as an Explanatory Variable
Week 4      

Monday 9/15 


Zubrow, Ezra B.  1971.  Carrying Capacity and Dynamic Equilibrium in the Prehistoric Southwest.  American Antiquity 36 (2): 127-138.  See JSTOR.  This can be accessed via the Library Catalog by typing the name of the journal and then using the electronic link.


Wednesday 9/17 Least cost/Optimal Foraging Theory

Winterhalder, Bruce  1987.  The Analysis of Hunter-Gatherer Diets: Stalking an Optimal Foraging Model.  In Food and Evolution: Toward a Theory of Human Food Habits, edited by M. Harris and E.B. Ross, pp. 311-339.  Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


Lab 3  Collecting data using GPS, field checking maps, digitizing.


Friday  9/19


No reading Assignment.  Collect observational data on Grinnell Campus space use.   You may also need to come in between Wednesday and Friday to do a bit of digitizing.  Data Collection due by 9 a.m. Friday via email.  Entering observational data

Week 5

Monday 9/22  Catchment Analysis


Vita-Finzi, C. and E. S. Higgs  1970. Prehistoric Economy in the Mount Carmel Area.  Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 36: 1-37.


Wednesday 9/24


Hill, J. Brett  2000.  Decision Making at the Margins: Settlement Trends, Temporal Scale, and Ecology in the Wadi al Hasa, West-Central JordanJournal of Anthropological Archaeology19: 221-241. See JSTOR.

Lab 4 Catchment Analysis

Friday  9/26


Hardesty, Donald L. and Don D. Fowler  2001.  Archaeology and Environmental Changes.  In New Directions in Anthropology and Environment, edited by C. L. Crumley, pp. 72-89.  Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.

Social Organization and Space  
Week 6      
Population Size and Distribution    

Monday  9/29


Sullivan, Alan P. and Christian E. Downum  1991  Aridity, Activity, and volcanic Ash agriculture: a study of Short-term Prehistoric Cultural-Ecological Dynamics.  World Archaeology 22(3): 271-287. See JSTOR.


Wilcox , David R., David A. Gregory, and J. Brett Hill  n.d.  Zuñi in the Puebloan and Southwestern Worlds.  In Zuñi Origins: Anthropological Approaches on Multiple Scales, edited by D. A. Gregory and D. R. Wilcox.  Publisher not yet decided.


Wednesday  10/1


Berry,  City Size Distributions and Economic Development  Economic Development and Cultural Change 9: 573-588.


Gould, Richard A. and John E. Yellen 1987.  Man the Hunted: Determinants of Household Spacing in Desert and Tropical Foraging Societies  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 6:77-103.


Lab 5Population distributions, the rank-size rule, nearest neighbor measurements.


Friday  10/3


Discuss lab approaches.

Week 7  Politics and Administration
Monday 10/6  Population Hierarchies/Territories   

Renfrew, Colin 1996.  Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-political Change.  In Contemporary Archaeology in Theory, edited by R. Preucel and I. Hodder, pp. 114-142.  Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell.


Wednesday 10/8 Locational Analysis


Johnson, Gregory A.

1972 A Test of the Utility of Central Place Theory in Archaeology. In Man, Settlement and Urbanism, edited by R. Tringham, Peter J. Ucko, and G. W. Dimbley, pp. 769-785. Duckworth, London.


Lab  Territorial allocations and cost surfaces


Friday 10/10


Hall, Thomas D.  1999.  World-Systems and Evolution: An Appraisal. In World-Systems Theory in Practice: Leadership, Production, and Exchange, edited by P.N.Kardulias,  pp. 1-23.  Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.

Week 8 the Movement of People and Goods  

Monday  10/13 Review of the literature due.


Gorenflo, L.J.  1996.  Regional Efficiency in Prehispanic Central Mexico: Insights from Geographical Studies of Archaeological Settlement Patterns. Arqueología Mesoamericana: Homenaje a William T. Sanders, edited by A. GuadalupeM, J. R. Parsons, R. S. Santley, and M. C. Serra P.,  pp. 135-159.  Mexico City: Instituto Nacional do Anthropología.


Wednesday 10/15


Renfrew, Colin


1975 Trade as Action at a Distance: Questions of Integration and Communication. In Ancient Civilization and Trade. Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff and Lamberg-Karlovsky C. C., pp. 3-59. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.


Lab Spider Diagrams and Exchange Systems/Least-Cost Paths


Friday  10/17


Malville, Nancy J.  2001.  Long-distance Transport of Bulk Goods in the Pre-Hispanic American Southwest.  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 20: 230-243. 



Activity Areas and the use of space within sites  
Week 9

Monday  10/27


Hegmon, Michelle, Scott G Ortman, and Jeannette L. Mobley-Tanaka  2000.  Women, Men, and the Organization of Space.  In Women and Men in the Prehispanic Southwest: Labor, Power, and Prestige, edited by Patricia L. Crown,  pp. 43-90.  Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press.

Wednesday 10/29


Enloe, James G., Francine David, and Timothy S. Hare.  1994.  Patterns of Faunal Processing at Section 27 of Pincevent: The Use of Spatial Analysis and Ethnoarchaological Data in the Interpretation of Archaeological Site Structure.  Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 13

Lab  Spatial Means, Standard Deviations and Trend Surfaces  

Friday 10/31

The Symbolic Meaning of Space    

Week 10


Monday 11/3


Bradley, Richard. 1994.  Symbols and Signposts—Understanding the Prehistoric Petroglyphs of the British Isles.  In The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology, edited by C. Renfrew and E. B.W. Zubrow, pp. 95-106.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Llobera, Marcos.  2001.  Building Past Landscape Perception with GIS: Understanding Topographic Prominence.  Journal of Archaeological Science 28: 1005-1014.


Wednesday 11/5


Zoran, Stančič and Kenneth Kvamme  1999.  Settlement Pattern Modeling through Boolean Overlays of Social and Environmental Variables.  New Techniques for Old times: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, edited by Juan A Barceló Ivan Briz, and AssumpcióVila, pp. 231-237.  Oxford: BAR International Series 757.


Madry, Scott L. H. and Lynn Rakos  1996.  Line-of-Sight and Cost-Surface techniques for Regional Research in the Arroux River ValleyIn New Methods, Old Problems: Geographic Systems in Modern Archaeological Research, edited by H.D. G. Maschner,  pp. 104-126.  Carbondale, Ill.: Canter for Archaeological Investigations Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Occasional Paper 23.

Lab Viewsheds and Predictive Modeling  

Friday 11/7

Week 11      
Understanding the Grammar of Space  



Shapiro, Jason S.  1999  New Light on Old Adobe: A Space Syntax Analysis of CASa Grande.  Kiva 64 (4): 419-446.


Wednesday 11/12


Donley, Linda Wiley  1982.  House Power: Swahili Space and Symbolic Markers.  In Symbolic and Structural Archaeology, edited by I. Hodder,  pp. 63-73.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Lab Analyzing Space within a Site


Friday 11/14


Week 12


Monday 11/17 and Tuesday 11/18  Project conferences by appointment


Wednesday and Friday (Out of town at AAA Meetings) Work on projects


Week 13




Work on projects


Week 14


Work on projects


Week 15


Project presentations