iPads In The Field

by Michael Jennings

An exciting and unexpected feature of the 2011 JMP season was the use of iPads as part of a system of digital recording of excavation results. Excavations generate a massive amount of data, ranging from notes on soil composition to descriptions of structures to ceramic analyses, and managing these data is a central concern for every project.

The advantages of the iPad exceeded our expectations and were quickly adopted by our Palestinian colleagues. The iPad allowed us to maintain a project database directly in the field, streamlining the traditional process that involves filling out locus sheets by hand and then typing these into the computer at a later time. Devoting time to data management might be unavoidable, but the iPad allowed us to spend more time doing archaeology rather than file work.

As we wrapped up the 2011 season, we spent a day at the Department of Antiquities in Ramallah, reminiscing about the previous two months at Mafjar. We printed out all the stratigraphic and ceramic data from each trench. Normally, this information would have taken months to organize. But with our new technology, we could share our results over tea with the colleagues who had worked so hard to help us make the project a success. It is clear that there is great potential for the use of the iPad in the field of archaeology and that we will be seeing this technology at many more sites in the future.

The project was recently featured on the FileMaker website.

Also see this guest post on the excellent blog, paperlessarchaeology.com.

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