Archaeology trials iPad for fieldwork study

Ipad : Source : Apple Marketing Suite

Peta Bulmer, a Ph.D student from the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology is carrying out a study on the use of iPads for fieldwork.

In a joint project between the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology and the Computing Services Department, Peta will explore the use of mobile devices, whilst working ‘in the field’ on a number of sites across Europe, over the summer.

ipad study

Peta uses her iPad in the field : University of Liverpool

The iPad will be used to take photographs, make notes and sketches, and record data from digs, rather than collate them post trip, as is the norm. It is hoped that the flexible and portable nature of the device will enable speedier, more efficient and accurate recording and analysis of the data gathered onsite.

Peta selected a 64GB iPad 2, one of the most popular tablets in the marketplace, as her chosen mobile device. An additional stylus has been provided to enable sketch work.

Jake Gannon, Head of Systems and Applications, in Computing Services Department, said: “We were delighted when Peta approached us to see how we could support her academic endeavours in the field. We are very excited at the prospect of using Peta’s experiences to help us shape our existing services as well as develop new services and guidance for our student and research community.”

As part of the study, Peta will use the iPad whilst digging at the ancient Greek site of Pistiros in Bulgaria, the medieval site of Poulton on the English – Welsh border, Delemere, and the Roman – Viking – medieval site at Hungate, near York. She will also be exploring the archaeology of ancient Kos.

ipad study

Ipad Study in the field : University of Liverpool

Peta, said: “So far, the iPad has proved quite useful. It’s small and lightweight so easier to travel with than a laptop, and especially helpful when negotiating more physically challenging sites. It’s also handy to have readily available access to guidance documents such as recording conventions, and makes recording dig findings and data much less time consuming. Although I don’t have them at the moment, I can see the benefits of additional drawing and data packages.”

On her return to the University, Peta will produce a report highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of using technology in the field. Once complete, a case study and guidelines will be made available on the CSD website.

CSD will make a series of recommendations based on the findings of the study, and will investigate how it can tailor its services to complement mobile devices such as an iPad. The development of a University of Liverpool fieldwork app is already being considered.

Contributing Source : University of Liverpool

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  • Geoff A

    The University of Cincinnati has already been using iPads at their Pompeii excavations for a few years now, with the support of Apple. I saw a poster from an American post-grad student at the SAA conference as well. Also Nikon Metrology is using iPad/iPodTouch/iPhone with their laser tracking systems for making 3D drawings directly onto the devices.

  • Matt

    The Excavations in the Athenian Agora through the American School of Classical Studies at Athens has been using iPads in the field for the last two seasons and have developed their own app for field recording.

  • Patrick Lorien

    Similarly, the University of Copenhagen, has been using iPads during excavations in Aylah, Jordan (Aylah Archaeological Project, AAP).

    Personally I used iPads for my Master's Thesis, where they were invaluable instruments during two surveys in Jordan.

  • Dave

    The E'se'get Archaeology Project through the Canadian Museum of Civilization also went paperless in their most recent season on the east coast of Canada. The field director's project blog details general recording uses, and also more advanced features like 3D visualization, use of 3D image databases for field identification, etc.