Review of ‘Adventures in Fugawiland: A computer simulation in archaeology, Second Edition’ by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgette Gebauer

06th January 2014

MacDonald Cover 1998Adventures in Fugawiland: A computer simulation in archaeology, Second Edition’ by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgette Gebauer, 1997, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, software + 198 pp. ISBN 1559347627. (programme disk and pbk)

Review by Katrina MacDonald

Fugawiland is an archaeological simulation computer program which developed as ‘an assignment for a course in Statistical Methods in Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’ (p.iii). Fugawiland is now in the 2nd edition, updated from an old MS-DOS version and now compatible with Windows/OS-2 Warp and Macintosh operating systems. The review copy was a Windows/OS-2 version.

The Fugawiland package includes a program disk and a book of 118 pages which includes an introduction to ‘doing archaeology’, and a workbook. The book has perforated pages so students can remove the workbook pages for submission to course instructors. In the review copy, there were not any notes to the instructor included in the package. The book looks attractive, with cute cartoon-like graphics designed to grab students’ attention, and is extremely well organised with margin paragraph headings and technical terms in bold font.

The hypothetical Fugawiland of the title is an area of northern Wisconsin (USA) where 2000 years ago a group of people lived a successful hunting-gathering-fishing lifestyle. In this computer simulation, the reader/user excavates sites from a known site register and analyses the recovered archaeological material.

The book is well organised into five parts. Part I is a very brief introduction to Fugawiland and its purpose, and what the reader/user can expect. Part II contains three chapters that the authors describe as a ‘field manual’ which covers ‘some of the methods and concepts of archaeology’ (p.2). This is organised into three parts: discovering archaeological sites, excavation, and analysis and interpretation. The brief introductions to the process of carrying out fieldwork are generally good for a first year student level (although it is not clear what student level this product is aimed at). However, I was alarmed to find no discussion concerning sampling in this section. Sampling is discussed, albeit very briefly, in Part III where the instructions for carrying out the simulation are provided (pp.63-4). In discussions about analysis and interpretation of archaeological finds, the focus is on the types of artefacts that might be retrieved from North American sites, and is not always relevant to interpretation of Australian archaeology.

Part III outlines all the features of the computer program and contains detailed instructions for carrying out the simulation and completing the workbook tasks. Importantly, the authors offer the caveat that Fugawiland is hypothetical, that sites are not usually fully excavated, and that archaeologists do not often have the detailed information provided in the simulation (p.45). However, the simulation does provide a student with the means of experiencing the process of gathering and exploring data without the inconvenience of getting dirty, getting funding, and setting aside the 15 years of their life which the Fugawiland project would take in real time.

The Fugawiland simulation asks the student to excavate ten sites, carry out exploratory data analysis, and answer ten multiple choice questions. The authors of the simulation suggest that students make themselves familiar with their ten randomly chosen questions, thus providing a framework for the choices the student will make with regard to which ten sites they will excavate. Each user of the program can conveniently exit the program at any time, and return to where they left it by using a password as a unique identifier.

Sites are excavated with a ‘click’ of the mouse (if only it was so easy!) and site plans and contents can then be displayed. The user can print the screen at any time, making it easy to keep a hard copy of the data collected. As each site is excavated, the user will find comments such as ‘Time out. Your spouse wants you home immediately to take care of a sick child. One week delay’, or ‘Hold it. Local land owners visit the excavations and are concerned about the size of the hole you are making in their field. Negotiations could take ten days’. These comments, while indicating that the simulation was created with good humour and a sense of fun, reflect some of the issues that an archaeologist may have to deal with in the process of research.

The program has limited analysis capabilities that allow the user to carry out exploratory data analysis and complete the workbook questions. The simulation has been incredibly well designed and there are very clear patterns in the data, regardless of which sites the user chooses to excavate.

Part IV of the book is the workbook, that includes various exercises for the student to complete for submission to an instructor. The exercises include drawing contours, stratigraphic interpretation and data analysis, along with a fieldwork report. Many of these questions (and this includes the multiple- choice questions in the simulation), cannot be answered with- out reference to some of the descriptions in Part III of the book, so it is not possible to do only the simulation. For example, the book provides discussions on the archaeological features and artefacts found in each of the sites, and this includes information on seasonality, ceremonial information and gender.

Part V of the book suggests some avenues for further study. For instance, a short, but well represented reference list is provided, along with suggestions for fieldwork opportunities (for American users), and some web addresses for those with internet capabilities.

While there are some editorial problems (such as mislabelled diagrams [p.93], and inconsistency in terms between the book and the simulation [e.g. chert ‘knives’ and chert ‘blades’]), this package is an excellent teaching and learning aid. It is much improved from the previous DOS version, and is now available for Macs as well. An informal survey of first year archaeology students at the University of New England who used the previous version indicated that students enjoy trying new approaches to learning, and that this product is a good computer based educational tool.

System requirements

Windows/OS-2 Warp: CPU 80286 or newer, 2 MB RAM, VGA Monitor with 256 colours, and Windows 3.x or Windows 95, or OS/2 WARP with Win-OS/2 or WARP and Windows 3.x.

Macintosh: all Macintosh machines running System 7.x, with at least 4 MB RAM and 2.5 MB on a hard drive.

MacDonald, K.
Review of ‘Adventures in Fugawiland: A computer simulation in archaeology, Second Edition’ by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgette Gebauer
June 1998
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