Monday, September 27, 2010

iPad May Revolutionize Archaeology

Archaeologists working at Pompeii are ecstatic about the value of iPads in the recording process, according to this article posted at

For Dr. Steven Ellis, who directs the University of Cincinnati’s archaeological excavations at Pompeii, perhaps the most significant discovery at the site this year was iPad. Ellis credits the introduction of six iPad devices at Pompeii with helping his team solve one of the most difficult problems of archaeological fieldwork: how to efficiently and accurately record the complex information they encounter in the trenches.

Most archaeological researchers today collect data from their sites as others have for the past 300 years. “It’s all pencil and paper,” says Ellis. “You have to draw things on paper, or in preprinted forms with boxes. That’s a problem because all these pages could be lost on an airplane, they could burn, they could get wet and damaged, or they could be written in unintelligible handwriting. And eventually they have to be digitized or entered into a computer anyway.”

Although portable computers offer a paperless solution, field archaeologists rarely use them in the trenches because their size, input limitations, battery life, and sensitivity to dirt and heat make them impractical in the harsh conditions of a dig.


image Photo from article

Ellis, who estimates that iPad has already saved him a year of data entry, plans to increase the number of iPad devices from one to two per trench. “The recovery of invaluable information from our Pompeian excavations is now incalculably faster, wonderfully easier, unimaginably more dynamic, precisely more accurate, and robustly secure,” he says.

Beyond the scope of his project, Ellis sees iPad as revolutionizing the 300-year-old discipline of archaeological fieldwork. “A generation ago computers made it possible for scholars to move away from just looking at pretty pictures on walls and work with massive amounts of information and data. It was a huge leap forward. Using iPad to conduct our excavations is the next one. And I’m really proud to be a part of it.”

The article gives more details and includes a number of photos of the iPad in action.

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  • I know this makes you all warm and bubbly! Are you softening toward the inevitable? :-)

    By Blogger Craig Dunning, at Tue Sep 28, 06:45:00 AM  

  • I would think the "augmented reality" functionality could also be really useful for archaeology.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Sep 28, 03:32:00 PM  

  • "...incalculably faster, wonderfully easier, unimaginably more dynamic, precisely more accurate, and robustly secure..."

    I think that describes every Mac user's daily experience. :-)

    By Blogger A.D. Riddle, at Wed Sep 29, 04:32:00 AM  

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