Isaac I. Ullah, PhD bio photo

Isaac I. Ullah, PhD

Computational Archaeology, Complex Adaptive Systems, Social-Ecological Systems, Geoarchaeology

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The Computational Archaeology Laboratory at San Diego State University is a state of the art facility for computational approaches in archaeology and geoarchaeology. Specialites include FOSS GIS, agent-based modeling, imagery analysis, as well sediment granulometry, geomorphology, landscape analysis, and geochronology. A main focus of research is on the origins and long-term dynamics of coupled human and natural systems, including anthropogenic landscapes, in the Mediterranean and beyond.

Students in ANTH 583 GIS and Imagery Analysis doing research in the Computational Archaeology Lab.
Students in ANTH 583 "GIS and Imagery Analysis" doing research in the Computational Archaeology Lab.

Lab Information

Location: Hardy Tower 62/66.
The lab is located on the ground floor of the Hardy Tower building. Students should enter through HT 62 door in the stairwell (look for “Computational Archaeology Laboratory” signs).

Supervised Lab Hours: Currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Computational Archaeology Lab Microscopy.
The Compuational Archaeology lab set up for low power digital microscopy work.


Research topics Methods
Coupled human-natural systems research GIS and spatial analysis
Anthropogenic landscapes, sediments, and soils Agent-based modeling
Agro-pastoral landuse and subsistence 3D and multispectral imaging
Long-term human socio-ecology Sediment analysis and geomorphology
Human eco-dynamics Scientific computing and machine learning
Landscape evolution Archaeological survey
Human-climate interaction Paleoenvironmental reconstruction

Collaborations Funding and support
The Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project The National Science Foundation
The Bova Marina Archaeological Project The National Endowment for the Humanities
The Wadi Ziqlab/Wadi Quseiba Project The Social Science Research Council, Canada
The Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies The SDSU University Grants Program

Students using low-power microscopy to analyze sediment particle shapes in the Computational Archaeology Laboratory.
Students using low-power microscopy to analyze sediment particle shapes in the Computational Archaeology Laboratory.


The Computational Archaeology Lab provides computing and other resources for undergraduate and graduate student research in the fields of Computational Archaeology and Geoarchaeology. There are ongoing opportunities for undergraduate student research volunteers and internships (for credit). There may be a limited number of paid hourly positions as well. Please email me if you are interested.
Prospective Master’s Students
I am currently seeking prospective MA students interested in the fields of Computational or Digital Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and Landscape Archaeology. I am particularly interested in students with some background in GIS or other computational approaches and/or the geosciences. I have ongoing research opportunities for students interested in working in the Mediterranean region, San Diego County, or in Central Eurasia. I have active fieldwork in Southern Italy and in San Diego County, and other opportunities may also include Spain, Jordan, or Kazakhstan. Interested prospective students should email me to discuss potential thesis topics further. You are also advised to visit the main Anthropology MA program page for more information about our graduate studies program.

Students undertake sediment granulometry analysis in the Computational Archaeology Laboratory.
Students undertake sediment granulometry analysis in the Computational Archaeology Laboratory.

Lab Resources

  • Computation:
    • 5 high-power Ubuntu Linux computer workstations with a full complement of FOSS computational analysis tools including GRASS GIS, QGIS, Image-J, R, Scientific Python, Python Photogrammetry Toolbox, Open Drone Map, Meshlab, Cloud Compare, NetLogo, RePast, PyABM, and more. These workstations are available to my graduate students and students in my courses to complete assignments and conduct research.
    • 2 Ubuntu Linux laptops for field work
    • A Puget Systems “Peak” HPC workstation. This workstation contains 44 multithreaded cores for parallel and high-performance computing.
    • Wacom tablets for data entry and digitization.
    • High-capacity external hardrives for long-term data storage
  • Photogrammetry:
    • Olympus EM1 ii mirrorless camera and assortment of lenses (including macro)
    • Tripods and lighting
    • DJI Mavic Pro aerial drone.
    • MapIR Survey2 Red-NIR NDVI camera.
    • MapIR luminosity calibration target
    • Xrite Color checker chart and grey cards
    • Pantone Huey screen profiling calibration tool
    • Insta360 360 degree camera
    • Livox terrestrial LiDAR scanner
    • High resolution flatbed and film scanner
    • Our drone photogrammetery workflow can be found here.
  • Sediment Granulometry:
  • Digital Field Data Collection:
    • Mobile tablet computers for field data collection using Open Data Kit.
    • Bad-Elf GNSS surveyor high precision bluetooth GPS units.
    • Our mobile data collection workflow can be found here.
  • Artifact Analysis:
    • Low-power USB microscopes for conducting microrefuse analysis or other such tasks.
    • Calipers, profilers, and other measurement tools
    • Assorted glassware and other laboratory tools
  • Archaeological and Geoarchaeological Fieldwork:
    • Sediment auger (regular, sand, and wide buckets)
    • OSL sampling tools
    • Soil Chemistry analysis (pH, Salinity, TDS, N, P, K)
    • Tools and guides for in-situ sediment descriptions
    • Tapes, levels, tools, etc., for survey and excavation