CGMA seminar: GIS and Mediterranean Archaeology
Lead Instructor: Pedar Foss Email:
Office/Campus: DePauw U.; Julian 104 Office Hours:
Campus Classroom: Julian 107 M 2-3:30; TR 4-4:30
[765-658-5417] Class Time: Tu / Th, 2:20-3:50 pm Eastern Time;
Telephone: 765-658-6314; cell: 317-701-6131 1:20-2:50 Central Time

Participating Faculty (2008)

Prof. Nick Kardulias, College of Wooster:
Office: 330-263-2474; Lab: 330-263-2413

Prof. Kenny Morrell, Rhodes College:
Office: 901-843-3821; Lab: 901-830-4094

NITLE contact:
Rebecca Davis,
Office: 512-863-1734

*Changes to the syllabus may occasionally be necessary*


This seminar is associated with CGMA, the Collaboratory for GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Mediterranean Archaeology funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and headquartered at DePauw University (under the direction of Profs. Pedar Foss and Rebecca Schindler) ( The CGMA project has used an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary program of undergraduate seminars, summer research internships, student-faculty workshops, and work-study grants to construct a Web-based Geographic Information System as an inventory for archaeological field survey projects: MAGIS ( Being the first Mediterranean-wide GIS registry of this kind, it provides a functional framework for broad studies of the interactions of humans and their natural and cultural environments in antiquity. This class is designed to teach the methods and theory of regional analysis in archaeology, as well the practical requirements of using GIS and other spatial technologies. The CGMA project specifically and Mediterranean archaeology generally provide launch points for the course. In the course of this class, students:

-Become familiar with the theories, methods, and practices associated with primary (field or lab) and secondary (library) research in archaeological survey and regional analysis. This requires developing background in the basic principles of archaeology.
-Gain experience in the use of geographic information systems and other spatial technologies.

-Develop an understanding of geo-spatial databases with specific reference to MAGIS and other online resources.


This upper-level undergraduate seminar has been held every fall term since 2003. The primary locus of instruction and the supervising professor rotate annually.

Sessions are held in person at the institution of the supervising professor, and conducted in real time over the Internet for students from the other institutions. A Moodle site ( serves for course organization, information (syllabus, readings, discussion forum, practicum results, etc.), and chats; a MIV (Multipoint Interactive Videoconferencing: system forms the means to webcast class sessions to participating institutions. Streaming audio/video conferencing, a chat window, and conference calls (when the Internet goes down) are common means of interaction. Exercises and group projects are also often given to students at each participating campus to complete both during and outside of class time. Students are encouraged to present their group projects at the Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring.

Technical Requirements:

Each participating campus should have:
-Institutionalized GIS support on campus (student access to ArcGIS 9.x, GoogleEarth and IT training/support)
-At least one handheld GPS receiver (powerful handhelds with ArcPad are available at the core CGMA institutions: DePauw, Millsaps, Rhodes, and Wooster).
-Access to a flatbed scanner for scanning maps and other images.
-Basic word-processing and database software (e.g., Word, Excel, Access, Filemaker)
-A teaching lab or classroom equipped with up-to-date computers (at least one for each student, and at least one with ArcGIS 9.x installed). Technical requirements can be found here: Also: fast Internet open to receive streaming from the NITLE servers, and a speakerphone, as space where students can meet for the class. The room should also have a good-sized table on which students can lay out maps and books during class.
-A faculty liaison willing to assist students on their home campus get acclimated to the set-up and technical specifics of accessing and participating in the course during the first week.

Course Description:

This course introduces advanced undergraduates to methods, theories, and practice in primary (field or lab) and secondary (library) research in archaeological survey; as well as archaeology and information technology, especially GIS.

There are three major pedagogical components: (a) lectures on history, method, and theory, while students engage in readings and discussion; (b) a multi-stage practicum on survey and GIS which students on each participating campus do in small groups; and (c) a final exam.

The supervising professor and all participating students meet twice a week for instruction, problem-solving, and real-time discussion; students also share ideas, questions, problems, research strategies, and results over the Moodle and MIV.

25% PARTICIPATION: attendance (5%); general participation, class exercises, in-class and online (CDS) discussion (20%).
35% PRACTICUM: group practicum, including five in-class presentations (20%) and a final 5-7 page written report (15%).
20% JOURNAL for notes on readings, coursework, and the practicum (on Moodle).

-PARTICIPATION: students must work through all the assigned readings, prepare to contribute to the activities in class, and attend all class sessions. If you know you will miss a class, please contact the lead instructor ( in advance. If you miss a class for whatever reason, you are expected to listen to the archive.

-PRACTICUM: The group of students on each participating campus is responsible for designing, implementing, and analyzing a survey of part of their campus or town (e.g., tombs in a local cemetery; distribution of trash vs. trashcans on campus; spatial history of the campus; distribution of places of worship); groups decide their topic during the first weeks of class. There are several stages to the project that incorporate the elements of archaeological survey and GIS. These include formulating a research project, designing a database, collecting data, and displaying the findings using a GIS. As the teams develop their projects, they will make periodic reports to the rest of the class as well as present their findings near the end of the semester.

For each presentation, short illustrated reports (PDFs or Powerpoints) should be mailed to the instructor ( no later than 4 hours before class-time. Reports should include not just a description of the progress made but also the rationales for specific decisions. Students may look for specific advice and direction from the class professor, or from the CGMA liaison on their own campus. Student groups are encouraged to present the results of their practica at the Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Symposium during the following spring. This offers valuable experience in formally presenting research work to peers, and engaging in conference-style academic collegiality. The five stages are:

Stage 1: Formulating research questions, choosing an area and developing a survey strategy. Thurs, 11 Sept.

Each group decides on particular questions about human activity or organization that they might be able to answer through the collection of artifactual evidence on the ground. Then they determine the limits of their survey area. This decision should be based on specific research questions that the group wants to answer. The group must also decide on a sampling strategy for that area.

Stage 2: Developing a collection strategy and designing a database. Tues, 30 Sept.

After selecting their question(s), an area and a sampling strategy, groups decide on a collection strategy. They then design data sheets for the field as well as a computer database.

Stage 3: Conducting the survey. Thurs, 16 Oct.

Students implement the survey they have designed. They then report back to the class on their field experience: what worked and what did not? What had to change in midstream?

Stage 4: Integrating the survey map and the database in a GIS. Tues, 11 Nov.

After training in GoogleEarthPro or ArcGIS 9.x, students create a GIS for their survey. They should note both the problems that they encounter as well as new questions that came up during the process. Using the GIS as both a tool and an environment, they should sort, visualize, manipulate, and explore their data towards answering their initial research question(s).

Stage 5: Writing and delivering a short report describing the process and principal results of the practicum. Tues-Thurs, 2-4 Dec.

It is the responsibility of all archaeologists to disseminate their results. Each group prepares and delivers a short illustrated presentation (15 minutes) as well as a final written report (5-7 pages, using AJA format) that summarizes their practicum, from start to finish. It should explain the data (what are the significant patterns?) and interpret them as well (what do those patterns suggest or mean in the context of understanding human activity, society, and the landscape?).

-JOURNAL: To support these two aspects of your experience, you must keep a journal (on Moodle) just as you would for a laboratory course. You should record in this journal all of the information relevant to your engagement with the material. As you work through the assigned readings, note questions that arise and insights you gain, and as you go through the process of formulating and completing your projects, this journal should serve as a record of your ideas, considerations, deliberations as well as the design of your research, the data you collect, and your findings. From time to time I will call on you individually to discuss the readings. When called upon, you should be prepared to summarize the main points of the article or chapter, share your observations on the text, outline how the ideas it presents relate to others we have encountered, and raise any questions you might have. To respond in this manner, you will need to draw from your journal. The journal is graded weekly on a 1-20 pt. basis; if you do not post for a given week (excepting the first week), you get a 'zero' for that week.

-A FINAL EXAM tests your mastery of the concepts and principles of regional archaeological survey and analysis, as well as GIS, as discussed over the course of the semester, by asking you to apply your knowledge to two test cases.