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Field Techniques



Bachelor year 1.


This course is an introduction to the methods and techniques of archaeological field research and databases.
The course starts with lectures series, workshops and introductory practicals, forming the theoretical basis for the course. This part is concluded with an examination.

During the course you practice various field registration techniques (both analogous and digital) and acquire knowledge of databases and statistics. This course is followed by Field School 1, in which all acquired skills can be applied. You need to pass this course in order to participate in Field School 1.

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 analyse the results from an excavation? 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?

Set-up of the course:
Each day comprises an introduction, a lecture, and an individual or group assignment to work on. After block 3, practicals take place on most days. A detailed schedule for these practicals will be announced.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the different types of archaeological data;

  • Knowledge of the way in which these archaeological data are collected and how they 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 programme;

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

  • Know how to prepare and perform a basic archaeological measurement project;

  • Ability to select and apply the matching techniques;

  • Ability to process and visualise the obtained data;

  • Ability to process the data in a report explaining the methods used, and to describe them in accordance with applicable standards and guidelines.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 132 hours of practical (5 ec);

  • Literature and assignments (5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Written exam (open questions);

  • Practical assignments.

The assignments lead to a final grade. For the examination, a retake is scheduled. A retake for the practicals is not possible.

If the requirements (attendance and submitting all practical assignments) are met, you receive a pass (DLN) for the practical 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 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 A.J. (Arjan) Louwen MA.


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).