Isaac I. Ullah, PhD bio photo

Isaac I. Ullah, PhD

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

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Welcome to the website for the new Computational Archaeology Laboratory at San Diego State University. The lab is in what I like to call it’s “beta” stage of development, as we are awaiting a full remodel to take place over Summer, 2017. When complete, the lab will be a state of the art facility for FOSS GIS, Agent Based Modeling, Imagery Analysis, and other computational approaches in archaeology and coupled human-natural systems science. A main focus of research in the lab will be the origins of coupled human and natural systems 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.

Lab Hours: Thursdays, 1-4pm (Spring 2017).
These are the “open lab” hours during which I will regularly be in the lab and available to answer questions. The lab may be open at other times.

Lab Resources

During the current “beta” development stage, the lab is operating with a minimal set of equipment and resources for Computational Archaeology. There are 6 Ubuntu Linux computer workstations with a full complement of FOSS computational analysis tools, as well as some basic resources for artifact analysis. These include 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 students in my courses to complete assignments and conduct research. These workstations will remain a core component of the lab as it is upgraded and completed.

Future laboratory resources:

  • A Puget Systems “Peak” HPC workstation. This workstation will contain 44 multithreaded cores for parallel and high-performance computing.
  • A flexible photogrammetry workstation to accommodate photogrammetric analysis of artifacts and landscapes, including 3D point-cloud generation via MVS.
  • Multispectral Aerial Drone. The drone will carry an RGB camera plus a near infra-red NDVI-capable camera.
  • Sediment Granulometry workstation. This includes a full set of nesting geologic sieves, a mechanical sieve shaker, and a precision balance.
  • Low-power USB microscopes for conducting microrefuse analysis or other such tasks.
  • Mobile tablet computers for field data collection using Open Data Kit.
  • Bad-Elf GNSS surveyor high precision bluetooth GPS units.
  • Wacom tablets for data entry and digitization.
  • Supplies for a variety of artifact and sediment analyses and measurements


Research topics.
The Computational Archaeology Lab lab conducts research into the following topics:

  • Coupled human-natural systems research
  • Agent-Based Modeling
  • GIS and Imagery Analysis
  • Anthropogenic Landscapes
  • Early domestication of plants and animals
  • The dynamics of early agro-pastoral subsistence systems

The Computational Archaeology Lab conducts research in collaboration with the following projects. Please visit these links for more information on each specific project.

Funding and support.
Funding and support for the research being conducted in the Computational Archaeology Lab comes from various sources including:

  • The National Science Foundation
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities
  • The Social Science Research Council, Canada
  • The SDSU University Grants Program
  • The SDSU Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies.


The Computational Archaeology Lab provides computing and other resources for undergraduate and graduate student research in the field of Computational Archaeology. Starting in Fall, 2017, there will be opportunities for undergraduate student research volunteers. There may be a limited number of paid hourly positions as well. Please email me if you are interested.

I am currently seeking prospective Master’s students interested in the field of Computational Archaeology. I am particularly interested in students with some background in GIS or other computational approaches. I will have ongoing research opportunities for students interested in working in Italy or Kazakhstan. Interested prospective Master’s students should email me to discuss this further. You are also advised to visit the main Anthropology MA program page for more information about our graduate studies program.

Recent Events

Recently, the Computational Archaeology Lab hosted the first SDSU Experimental Archaeology Workshop. More information about the workshop can be found in this post. The SDSU Daily Aztec published a nice article about the workshop as well.

The Computational Archaeology Lab set up for the Experimental Archaeology Workshop.
The Computational Archaeology Lab set up for the Experimental Archaeology Workshop.