Logo UAB

Quantitative Archaeology

Code: 100715 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500241 Archaeology OB 3 1
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Juan Antonio Barceló Álvarez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


Standard Knowledge of basic arithmetic and computation at a user level.

Objectives and Contextualisation

Although the majority of archaeologists still do not believe it, archeology is a mathematical discipline (as it was asserted by David Clarke) equally with chemistry, physics, etc.. That is, we have to solve archaeological problems using reasoning methods developed in mathematical language. The difficulty is that most students from Humanities do not know their maths. Although there are many computer programs that would help us to apply these mathematical, the truth is that its use seems to be too complicated for those without the necessary skills. So this course has been scheduled, following step by step easy to follow examples of all techniques used in archeology, documenting a schematic, intuitive, simple and direct of all statistical functions that may become useful for archaeologists. The introduction to statistical techniques will not be based on formulas, but the explanation of the underlying logics.  Calculations will performed by a computer program. The course is specially designed for students of archeology that wish to become future professionals in our discipline that not only have no idea of mathematics, and they learnt to hate them in their school years . Numbers appear in large numbers, but operations (arithmetic, algebraic, etc.) will be obviated and  replaced by intuitive explanations of what is intended with these techniques.

Thematically, the course is an introduction to classical statistics, initially discussing the quantitative data and archaeological measurements, the most common presenting descriptive statistics and introducing students to the procedures of statistical inference, such as qualitative tests for contingency tables, analysis of variance, the study of correlations between variables, etc.. The course presents the foundations of studies of classification and multidimensional analysis, leaving aside a brief examination geostatistics and statistical analysis of time series.


  • Carrying out and managing archaeology fieldwork: excavation and survey.
  • Managing the main methods, techniques and analytic tools in archaeology.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must be capable of collecting and interpreting relevant data (usually within their area of study) in order to make statements that reflect social, scientific or ethic relevant issues.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Applying both knowledge and analytical skills to the resolution of problems related to their area of study.
  2. Applying proper techniques and analytical tools in case studies.
  3. Autonomously searching, selecting and processing information both from structured sources (databases, bibliographies, specialized magazines) and from across the network.
  4. Interpreting the archaeological fieldwork results by placing them into their historical context.
  5. Using computing tools, both basics (word processor or databases, for example) and specialised software needed in the professional practice of archaeology.
  6. Using the specific interpretational and technical vocabulary of the discipline.


Introduction to Quantification in Social Sciences and Archeology. What does "Statistics" mean? Why it is so important. Text Commentary: “Analysis and Explanation in Archeology”.

The execrable world of Numbers. Observation, Measurement and Quantification. Text comment: “Not all numbers are the same. Types of measures and types of scales ”.

Measurement of Space and Time in Archeology

From measurements to data. Representation and Coding of archaeological information. Database.

Presentation of a case study. Exercise with Excel.

The concept of variability. Measurement of Variability.

Measurement of variability. Internships with PAST Software. Histograms and One-Dimensional Statistics

What is chance? The importance of randomness.

Statistical design of a research. Statistical Contrasting of Models and Hypothesis Testing File

Contingency Tables and Correspondence Analysis. Practices with PAST

Student t test. Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Variables

Analysis of Variance. Practices with PAST

The concept of correlation

The concept of linear and nonlinear regression

Introduction to Principal Component Analysis

Measurement of Similarity. Introduction to the use of Euclidean distance

Group and dendrogram analysis (Cluster Analysis)

Classification and Typology. Theoretical Debate

General review of all statistical techniques used throughout the course

Archeology and Statistics. Theoretical Debate


Check the cataln version of this Guide


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Practical Homework 15 0.6 1, 6
Practical work at class 20 0.8 1, 6
Theoretical content 5 0.2 4
Type: Supervised      
Tutorials 20 0.8 2, 1, 5
Type: Autonomous      
Student Work 90 3.6 2, 1, 3, 5


Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and / or discussions of exercises through Videoconference, Moodle, Teams, etc. The teaching staff will ensure that the student can access or offer alternative means that are within their reach.

Avaluationtests will not take place at a single session in the University.

(1) Exhaustive statistical analysis of a case study throughout the course. Parts of this analysis must be submitted each week.  The entire case study (evaluable). integrating the corrected weekly exercise, will be delivered to the teaching staff the second week of December. The delivery may be made electronically, using the mechanism communicated by lecturers in each case.

(2) Final work on a new archaeological case proposed by the lecturer. The data is discussed in class and part of the calculations too, during the last week of the course in December. Next, and individually, the students will prepare an individual written work with a length of 25-30 pages, explaining the most appropriate statistical techniques to solve the archaeological questions raised by this case. The work must be delivered in January. The delivery may be made electronically, using the mechanism communicated by lecturers in each case. All written works submitted by students for evaluation are re-evaluable. This decision will be made in each case after a personalized interview (face-to-face or by electronic means)  with the main lecturer. This tutorial should serve to comment on the quality of the work presented and the main errors. It is not mandatory in all cases, only when the student intends to request the re-evaluation. The delivery date of the re-evaluation and its particular characteristics will also be taken on a case-by-case basis, and by mutual agreement between the lecturer and the student.

CONTINUEDEVALUATION: Weekly exercises and text comments (20%). First case study (35%). Second case study (Final Work): (45%).

The student will receive the grade of Non-evaluable as long as they have not submitted one of the two main works required for the evaluation.

In the event that the student makes any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade of an assessment act, this assessment act will be rated 0, regardless of the disciplinary process that may be instructed. In the event of several irregularities in the acts of evaluation of the same subject, the final grade for this subject will be 0.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Continuous Evaluation. Week work 20 0 0 2, 1, 6, 5
First written essay 35 0 0 2, 1, 3, 4, 6, 5
Second Written Essay 45 0 0 2, 1, 6, 5


OPEN SOFTWARE:  http://folk.uio.no/ohammer/past


Victor M. Fernández-Martínez. Arqueo-Estadística. Métodos cuantitativos en Arqueología. AlianzaEditorial.

Juan A. BARCELÓ. 2006, Curso de Arqueología y estadística. Vol. I. Introducción al estudio de la variabilidad de las evidencias arqueológicas. Servei de Publicacions de la Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (Se entregará un ejemplar gratuito en .PDF  a cada estudiante).




ABELSON, R.P.., 1998, La estadística razonada: reglas y principios. Buenos Aires: Paidos.

BANNING, E., 2020, The Archaeologist's Laboratory: The Analysis of Archaeological Evidence. Springer. (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology)

BARCELÓ, J.A:, 2009, Computational Intelligence in Archaeology. Information Science reference, IGI Group. Inc.

BARCELÓ, J.A., BOGDANOVIC, I., 2015, Mathematics and Archaeology. CRC Press.

BARCELÓ, J.A., 2020, Métodos cronométricos en Arqueología, Historia y Pleontología. Madrid. Editorial Dextra.

BAXTER, M.J., 2003, Statistics in Archaeology. London, Arnold Publ.

BAXTER,M.J., 1994, Exploratory Multivariate Analysis in Archaeology. Edinburgh University Press.

BEVAN, A., LAKE, M., 2016, Computational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces (UCL Institute of Archaeology Publications Book 60)

Carlson, D.L., 2017, Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Using R (Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology)

CHAMBERLAIN, D., 2006, Demography in Archaeology. Cambridge University press.

CONNOLLY, J., LAKE, M., 2009, Sistemas de Información geográfica aplicados a la Arqueología. Ediciones Bellaterra

DE SMITH, M.J., GOODCHILD, M., LONGLEY, P., 2009, Geospatial Analysis. Winchelsea Press. (www.spatialanalysisonline.com)

DE VAUX, VELLEMAN, BOCK, Stats: Data and Models (3 edición). Pearson, Addison-Wesley (con ejercicios y programas para estudiantes: http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Stats-Data-and-Models/0321692551.page
DJINDJIAN,F., 1992, Les méthodes pour l’Archéologie. Paris: Armand Colin
FLETCHER,M., LOCK,G., 1992, Digging Numbers. Elementary Statistics for Archaeologists. Oxford Archaeological Commitee.

GILLINGS, M., HACIGÜZELLER, P., LOCK, G., 2020, Archaeological Spatial Analysis: A Methodological Guide. Routledge.

HAMMER,O., HARPER,D., 2005, Paleontological Data Analysis. Blackwell.
KAMERMANS, H., LEUSEN, M.J., VERHAGEN , P., 2009, Archaeological Prediction and Risk Management. Leiden University

LEE LYMAN, R., 2008, Quantitative Paleozoology. Cambridge University Press.
LOCK, G., 2003, Using Computers in Archaeology. Routledge, London.

LÓPEZ VARELA, S. (ed.), 2018. The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences, 4 Volume Set. Wiley.

NAKOINZ, O.,  Y DANIEL KNITTER, 2016,  Modelling Human Behaviour in Landscapes: Basic Concepts and Modelling Elements. Springer (Quantitative Archaeology and Archaeological Modelling)

MCCALL, G.S., 2018, Strategies for Quantitative Research: Archaeology by Numbers. Routledge.

McHUGH, F., 1999, Theoretical and Quantitative Approaches to the Study of Mortuary Practice. Oxford, ArcheoPress (BAR Int. Series S 785)

ORTON, C., 2000, Sampling in Archaeology. Cambirdge University Press.

ORTON,C., 1980, Matemáticas para Arqueólogos Alianza Editorial (AU522)

READ, D., 2007, Artifact Classification. Left Coast press.

SHENNAN,S., 1992, Arqueología Cuantiativa. Barcelona, Ed. Crítica.

VANPOOL, T.L.,  Y ROBERT D. LEONARD, 2010,Quantitative Analysis in Archaeology. Wiley.

ZIMMERMAN, L., GREEN, 2007, W., The Archaeologist’s Toolkit. (7 vol.) Altamira Press.