Computational Archaeology

Computational archaeology describes computer-based analytical methods for the study of long-term human behaviour and behavioural evolution. As with other sub-disciplines that have prefixed 'computational' to their name (e.g. computational biology, computational physics and computational sociology), the term is reserved for (generally mathematical) methods that could not realistically be performed without the aid of a computer.

Computational archaeology may include the use of geographical information systems (GIS), especially when applied to spatial analyses such as viewshed analysis and least-cost path analysis as these approaches are sufficiently computationally complex that they are extremely difficult if not impossible to implement without the processing power of a computer. Likewise, some forms of statistical and mathematical modelling, and the computer simulation of human behaviour and behavioural evolution using software tools such as Swarm or Repast would also be impossible to calculate without computational aid. The application of a variety of other forms of complex and bespoke software to solve archaeological problems, such as human perception and movement within built environments using software such as University College London's Space Syntax program, also falls under the term 'computational archaeology'.

Computational archaeology is also known as archaeological informatics (Burenhult 2002, Huggett and Ross 2004) or archaeoinformatics (sometimes abbreviated as "AI", but not to be confused with artificial intelligence).

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