Before I go too far into the details of our systems, I think it would be beneficial to lay out the SVP’s operating environment in order to provide a fuller picture of the context in which our systems are being employed.

(Warning: if you don’t get excited by dry discussions of infrastructure, you probably shouldn’t read this.)

Physical environment

As a regional project, the SVP does not excavate at a single site. Instead, we move from site to site depending on the amount of time required to do a proper investigation at a particular spot. We also employ survey and various other methods of data collection. This means that our infrastructure needs to be mobile and flexible, and we cannot count on having access to anything other than what we bring with us into the field. Among other things, this means all field equipment has to run on batteries and stay useable for at least 6 hours before needing to be recharged. Cellular 3G coverage in the area is also quite spotty (despite the fact that there are several large telecommunications towers on top of the mountain where we do most of our work…go figure), so internet access is assumed not to exist. We do have a pretty stable and consistent headquarters in the largest nearby town, Tornareccio, where the local Comune has been kind enough to allow us the use of one or two public buildings.

This year our lab and network setup was greatly constrained by the space that we were given. The main lab area consisted of three rooms slightly larger than your average dorm room. The first was for pottery processing, the second was the computer lab, and the third was for small finds processing. There was space outside for washing pottery and processing environmental samples. At the other end of the building was the photography lab, several hundred feet away.


The project operated on a local network, with both wired and wireless access. The only spot with internet access was at the other end of the building (out of Wi-Fi range, and with too many doors in between to run cables), and it was not connected in any way to our local network. Likewise, since the photography lab was at the other end of the building it was not connected to our local network. While this was not ideal, we decided that the other specialists had a greater need for constant access to the database, so they got assigned the two rooms next to the computer lab.

The major equipment we used is listed below. All Macs (except the server) have Boot Camp partitions for ArcGIS and other Windows-only software.


  • 1 Mac Mini Server (network management, local file server, sharing the FileMaker Pro database over the network, and iTunes syncing for iPads)
  • 1 moderately recent Windows server (legacy data from previous seasons)
  • A handful of MacBook Pros of various ages (image processing, GIS, and multipurpose)
  • 1 Mac Mini (GIS and multipurpose)
  • 2 older Gateway laptops (finds and pottery specialists)
  • 6 iPad WiFi 16GB
  • 1 iPad WiFi + 3G 32GB
  • 2 Trimble handheld GPS units
  • A handful of point-and-shoot cameras of various ages
  • 1 Canon DSLR
  • 2 Eye-Fi Connect X2 cards
  • Various networking and other equipment


  • FileMaker Pro (and Pro Advanced) 11
  • ArcGIS 10
  • Adobe CS5
  • Adobe Lightroom 3