Alex Marko (top) and Kevin Dicus make a scaled drawing on the iPad. Photo by Steve Ellis.

This blog is born of a promise that I made to several archaeologists that I met at Pompeii while working on the PARP:PS project during the summer of 2009. Our project made the bold move of completely abandoning paper and we experimented with a totally paperless data acquisition scheme using iPads. Many of our colleagues dropped by the gate to see what we were doing and we received many requests for more detailed information than a simple ten minute tour would allow. So I promised that I would post as much information about our experiences as I could, and I wanted to do this in a way that would allow full access to the materials and techniques that we used, while allowing for discussion.
This is the result. In many ways it is an extension of the PARP:PS website itself, but we didn’t want to clutter up that website with this diversionary discussion.
Paperless Archaeology goes beyond the field acquisition of data. There are four aspects of paperless archaeology that I would like to discuss here:
  • immediate digitization of field observations
  • using digital tools during the research and writing process
  • the publication of the results electronically
  • archiving project data
But mostly, I want to look at how these four parts fit together into a single workflow. At PARP:PS we are working on all of these at the same time. Our observations are directly entered into a computer. Our database strives to be more than a digital collection of field observer’s notes and allow some analysis from the raw data. And the results of the project are largely published digitally in the Journal of Fasti Online. Once published, our data will be preserved in our department and most likely hosted on our servers in the way that the PRAP project is made available.
Since this three part focus is quite a wide range, I will rely from time to time on cross-postings from other blogs that are working on similar topics.
The initial focus, however, will be on the use of tablet computers in the trenches themselves: the techniques, the workflows, the training, and the results.
Special thanks goes to Steven Ellis, the director of PARP:PS, who has allowed me to post information from the site with relatively few restrictions.