nl en

Field techniques



This course is an introduction to the methods and techniques of archaeological field research and databases.
The first semester consists of lectures series, workshops and introductory practicals, forming the theoretical basis for the course. This semester is completed with an examination.
During the second semester students practise different field registration techniques (both analog and digital) and acquire knowledge of databases and statistics. This course is followed by Fieldschool 1, in which all acquired skills can be applied.

The course has an introductory character and the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills is the main purpose. At the end of the course you have (practical) knowledge of prospecting methods, excavation techniques and databases, and various archaeological field registration techniques. You are able to report on different field registration techniques on a basic level.

The course focuses on 3 questions:

  • What? What is archeology? Which things are left? How is the archaeological record formed and how can we begin to recover it?

  • Where? Where are the archaeological remains: prospection, survey and excavation

  • How? How to create a database? How does height measurement work, how do you measure and draw manually? How do you use the Total Station and the GPS?

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the different types of archaeological data;

  • Knowledge of the way in which these archaeological data are collected and can be analysed;

  • Knowledge of the various excavation techniques and how they are applied in archaeology;

  • General knowledge of the basic concepts of a relational database system and the application of structured data collections in archaeology;

  • Ability to design, fill and query a database with archaeological data using the MS Access program;

  • To apply this to excavations as well as to research in the context of one’s own thesis;

  • Ability to report in a clear manner and according to guidelines of the applied field techniques on an archaeological excavation visited during an excursion;

  • Prepare and perform a basic archaeological measurement project;

  • Select and apply the matching techniques;

  • Process and visualise the obtained data;

  • Processing the data in a report explaining the methods used, and describing them in accordance with applicable standards and guidelines.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals;

  • Excursion.

Course load

132 contact hours, which includes time to read the literature and work on the assignments.

Assessment method

Semester 1:

  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Written exam (open questions) (50%);

  • Excursion report 2,000-2,200 words(50%).

These assignments lead to a final grade for the first part of the course.

Grades may be compensated. For the examination, a retake is scheduled. A retake for the practicals is not possible.
For the excursion report a retake is organised as well (in case of illness), this is a paper of at least 3,000 words, about a subject to be assigned by the lecturer.

Semester 2:

  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Practical assignments.

Semester 2 consists of practical assignments.

If the requirements (attendance and submitting all practical assignments) are met, you receive a pass (DLN) for the second part of the course.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 examination schedule.

Reading list

  • C. Renfrew & P. Bahn, Archaeology: Methods, Theories and Practice. 6th edition (2012), pag. 1-120;

  • Several articles, to be announced during the course.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.


For more information about this course, please contact drs. J. de Bruin.


Compulsory attendance. You can miss no more than 1 class per 7 lectures (14 hours), or no more than 2 classes per 14 lectures (28 hours).