• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Specialist
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
Managing, Mapping and Detecting Archaeological Sites (ARCH8034)

How much of the soil of the Earth carries traces of past human activity? Is much of our planet surface one huge archaeological site? How is it in 2010 we can find a new "second Stonehenge" at Stonehenge? How do I know if I have an archaeological site in a paddock, my backyard or in the footprint of a housing development? How can I most reliably find out ?

The 20th century saw a huge increase in the scale, complexity and effectiveness of procedures used by archaeologists to search for "unseen" archaeological sites and buried landscapes. Methods range from remote sensing from satellites and aircraft; through LIDAR and Radar, to ground-based remote sensing and geophysical methods (Time Team's "geofizz") to large scale archaeological investigations and testing of landscapes (often ahead of development) through excavation by machine, by hand and by drilling and coring.

This course provides a Masters level foundation for understanding the applications and limits of the scientific "tool-box" now available for detecting evidence of past human actions across the Earth's surface (as archaeological sites). It focuses on methods available for detecting archaeological sites; issues of assessing data quality and ethical considerations of how to deliberate and decide what to preserve and conserve, where and when, from a global comparative perspective driven by the need for affordable and sustainable outcomes. Case studies are used to illustrate successes, failures and consequences of subsurface evaluation processes and developments engaging sites "unseen".

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students will develop core skills in conceptualizing, planning and assessing research results from the process of archaeological site detection in landscape/soil contexts. The course provides a professional level foundation in critical thinking applied to assessing results from archaeological surface survey and subsurface investigations at a global comparative scale.

Indicative Assessment

Critical annotated briefing notes for a selected site detection technique as merits/demerits/limitations (module 10 (20%); development of a research design proposal for investigating subsurface archaeological site occurrence in a selected geographic area, based on terrain categorisation as a desk-top study, as a 3,000 word scoping proposal (50%); individual plan for a group gaming simulation for a mapped areas (20%) and contributions to group role playing (10%)

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 The workload will comprise 36 contact hours taught intensively in 3 blocks of 12 hours (each block of 12 hours spread over 2 days) with the expectation of a further 80 hours of independent study and preparation ahead of the intensive class teaching/workshops/practical simulation games.


Prescribed Texts

David, B. and Thomas, J. (eds) 2008 Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Left Coast Press:Walnut Creek. 

Spoerry, P (ed.) 1992 Geoprospection in the Archaeological Landscape. Oxbow Monograph 18. Oxbow books:Oxford.

Wiseman, J. and El-Baz, F. (eds) 2007 Remote Sensing in Archaeology. Springer: New York.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3054
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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