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Quantitative Methods in Archaeology


Admission requirements

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

  • Admission to the MSc Archaeology programme Archaeological Science.


The course provides theoretical information and hands-on experience to statistics for archaeology.
Academic discussions will provide you with the necessary background to perform statistical analyses of real-life and synthetic archaeological data.

In the lab sessions, we will acquire R skills and will learn how to write basic R scripts towards the solution of archaeological problems. Furthermore, we will gain a critical understanding of statistics and how they may be used and misused in archaeological investigations.

The course will cover introductory topics including differences in data types, descriptive statistics, basic data visualisation techniques, sampling distributions and confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Chi-Square Statistics, linear regression analysis, and nonparametric statistics.

Course set-up

The lecturer will present the material during the lectures. The students will have access to these presentations through Brightspace prior to each lecture.
The lecturer will provide the students with R Notebook files for the labs. These files will be self-explanatory so that students can work with them at their own pace. There will be guidance throughout the lab hours.

Course objectives

  • Learn the necessary statistical terminology to understand and convey statistical concepts;

  • Acquire critical thinking on statistical methods employed in archaeology and gain abilities to evaluate the reliability of statistical analyses and results in published reports, articles, and manuscripts;

  • Obtain substantial skills in building descriptive statistics and data representations;

  • Gain knowledge and expertise to conduct necessary statistical inference and basic modelling;

  • Acquire coding skills and perform statistical analyses using R;

  • Conduct a major statistical project using archaeological data;

  • Learn how to disseminate the results of a quantitative archaeology project effectively.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Laboratory work.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • 7 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 7 x 2 hours of laboratory work (1 ec);

  • Final project report (1 ec);

  • Laboratory reports (1 ec);

  • 140 pages of literature (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Written exam (30%);

  • Laboratory reports (30%) (all reports need to be submitted);

  • Final project report (40%).

There will be a one final grade. Passing the average grade is sufficient.
Only the written exam can be retaken.

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

The final exam and the final project report are due one week after the end of the course.
Laboratory reports are due each week of the course except the first 2 weeks. The final laboratory report is due 1 week after the end of the course.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

Reading list

  • Birch, T., and M. Martinón-Torres. 2019. "Shape as a Measure of Weapon Standardisation: From Metric to Geometric Morphometric Analysis of the Iron Age ‘Havor’ Lance from Southern Scandinavia", in: Journal of Archaeological Science 101: 34–51;

  • Cesaretti, R., J. Lobo, L.M.A. Bettencourt, S.G. Ortman, and M.E. Smith. 2016. "Population-Area Relationship for Medieval European Cities", in: *PloS One 11 (10): e0162678;

  • Hafford, William B. 2005. "Mesopotamian Mensuration: Balance Pan Weights from Nippur", in: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 48 (3): 345–87;

  • Hanson, John W., Scott G. Ortman, L.M.A. Bettencourt, and L.C. Mazur. 2019. "Urban Form, Infrastructure and Spatial Organisation in the Roman Empire", in: Antiquity 93 (369): 702–18;

  • Monge, J., and C. McCarthy. 2011. "A Life of Violence: When Warfare and Interpersonal Violence Intertwine at Hasanlu, Period IVB", in: Peoples and Crafts in Period IVB at Hasanlu, Iran, 183–93. University of Pennsylvania Press;

  • Ortman, S.G., K.E. Davis, J. Lobo, M.E. Smith, L.M.A. Bettencourt, and A. Trumbo. 2016. "Settlement Scaling and Economic Change in the Central Andes", in: Journal of Archaeological Science 73: 94–106;

  • Out, W.A., and M. Madella. 2016. "Morphometric Distinction between Bilobate Phytoliths from Panicum Miliaceum and Setaria Italica Leaves", in: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 8 (3): 505–21;

  • Pietrusewsky, M., and M. T. Douglas. 2002. "Dental Morphology", in: Ban Chiang, a Prehistoric Village Site in Northeast Thailand, Volume 1: The Human Skeletal Remains, 46–53. University of Pennsylvania Press;

  • Spielmann, K.A., M. Nelson, S. Ingram, and M.A. Peeples. 2011. "Sustainable Small-Scale Agriculture in Semi-Arid Environments", in: Ecology and Society 16 (1): 26–47;

  • Verdugo, C., K. Zhu, K. Kassadjikova, L. Berg, J. Forst, A. Galloway, J.E. Brady, and L. Fehren-Schmitz. 2020. "An Investigation of Ancient Maya Intentional Dental Modification Practices at Midnight Terror Cave Using Anthroposcopic and Paleogenomic Methods", in:* Journal of Archaeological Science 115*: 105096;

  • Zeder, M.A., and X. Lemoine. 2020. "A Method for Constructing Demographic Profiles in Sus Scrofa Using Logarithm Size Index Scaling", in: Journal of Archaeological Science 116: 105115.


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.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. T. (Tuna) Kalayci.


  • Attendance is not compulsory, but strongly recommended: preparing the final project (40%) and writing lab reports (30%) relies on your in-person participation. Furthermore, to get a grade for the lab work, all lab reports need to be submitted;

  • The course is in block 2. Due to the recent COVID pandemic, classes in semester 1 will be offered remotely with the possibility of on-campus teaching from block 2 onwards. Therefore, the lectures and lab hours will be designed in such a way that both online and on-campus education is possible.