Modern quantitative methods and shape analysis in archaeology


  • 2019


The aim of the course is to apprehend to quantitatively express and process the information about the shape of archaeological artefacts. Students will be familiarised with the traditional and modern geometric morphometrics methods (2D/3D landmark analysis, analyses of open or closed contours, etc.). An essential part of the course will be devoted to the recent shape acquisition techniques (3D scanning, photogrammetry, etc.), followed the statistical treatment of the morphometric data. At the end of the course, students should be able to choose an appropriate method to solve variety of archaeological questions concerning various artefact productions (stone, ceramic, metal), dated to diverse chronological periods.


  • 1. Introduction to morphometrics. Brief introduction to methods of traditional and modern geometric morphometrics methods.
  • 2. Acquisition techniques. Recent and most useful methods for 2D and 3D object shape acquisition with real-world examples.
  • 3. Automatic drawings of archaeological artefacts. Methods and tools for (semi-)automatic drawing of archaeological artefacts.
  • 4. Applications of statistics and morphometrics. Brief overview of statistics. Statistics used for shape information treatment.
  • 5. 2D landmark analyses I – theory. Analyses of landmarks and semi-landmarks. Case study of ceramics, Roman coins, Palaeolithic arrows, and Second Iron age Brooches.
  • 6. 2D landmark analyses II – practice. Exercises.
  • 7. 3D landmark analyses I – theory. New 3D ICP-based methods of shape analysis. Case study of Bronze Age Ingots.
  • 8. 3D landmark analyses II – practice. Exercises.
  • 9. Outline analyses and other morphometric methods – theory. Analyses of open and closed outlines. Case study of Bronze Age Palstaves and Flanged Axes, case study of the Second Iron Age ceramics.
  • 10. Outline analyses and other morphometric methods – practice. Exercises.

Recommended literature

  • Claude, J., 2008. Morphometrics with R. Springer.
  • Bookstein, F.L., 1991. Morphometric tools for landmark data: Geometry and Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Elwa, A.M.T., 2004. Morphometrics – Applications in Biology and Palaeontology. Springer.
  • Elwa, A.M.T., 2004. Morphometrics for Nonmorphometricians. Springer.
  • Lestrel, P.E., 1997. Fourier descriptors and their applications in biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Marcus, L. F., et al., 1996. Advances in Morphometrics. New York, Plenum Press.
  • Zelditch, M., et al., 2004: Geometric morphometrics for biologists. Elsevier.