Funding for the Methods Network ended March 31st 2008. The website will be preserved in its current state.

Digital Tools for Archaeology

The use of computers in archaeology has a lengthy history and practitioners within the discipline can claim, with some justification, that both the technology they use and the methods that they’ve adopted have more of a relationship to scientific practice (including computer science) than those adopted by colleagues in many other arts and humanities disciplines. Ultimately, this has no pejorative meaning in the context of what the various disciplines may have a remit to accomplish, but it nonetheless begins to explain the basis of a common perception that archaeology is ‘ahead’ of some of its neighbours in certain areas that relate to the use of ICT, notably perhaps: the development of standard approaches to electronic documentation; the use of collaborative frameworks for technological research; and the broad integration of globally established digital spatial reference systems.

Taking into account the longevity of the relationship between archaeologists and computing, it is difficult to effectively summarise the range of digital tools that are available to researchers. Additionally, providing some context for the use of these tools is similarly problematic, given that there is so much activity and so many projects to choose from. The objective of this working paper is, therefore, to block out some broad categories of tools usage and to provide some examples of methods and approaches that relate to those tools. Whilst this approach may not reveal very much to researchers who are experienced in using specific or multiple technologies at an advanced level, it may nonetheless provide a useful foundation document, onto which more nuanced and technically complex additional material might be appended.

Read the full Working Paper : (pdf)

Image: Morguefile.

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • Archaeology
  • History


  • Data Analysis - Record linkages
  • Data Analysis - Predictive spatial modelling
  • Data Analysis - Searching/querying
  • Data Analysis - Visual analysis/visualisation
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Coding/standardisation
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - 2d modelling - vector
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - 3d modelling - vector
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Data modelling - object oriented
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Data modelling - relational
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Geo-referencing/projection
  • Data Capture - 2d Scanning/photography
  • Data Capture - 3d modelling - vector - volumetric
  • Data Capture - Digital aerial photography
  • Data Capture - Digital remote sensing
  • Data Capture - Geophysical survey
  • Data Capture - GPS/total station surveys