All posts by archaeopad

Archaeopad is a collection of Apps designed for and with archaeologists. I’m an IT specialist who’s been studying for a part-time degree in Archaeology at the University of Reading and have become fascinated with the challenges, and potential benefits, of putting my IT skills to use in the field. Archaeologists need applications that blend a practical, robust approach with sound academic content, a suitable challenge for any designer/developer. Comments, feedback, ideas and suggestions welcomed.

Lockdown Upside?

There aren’t many upsides to lockdown, but it has mean that I’ve finally had time to focus on fixing the Android version of Archaeo-Pad. Multiple updates to Android meant that a number of ‘undocumented features’ in Android had been fixed, leaving Archaeo-Pad with some peculiar behaviour.

While its nowhere near as important as the UK’s Covid 19 tracking App, I sympathise with the developers – neither Google nor Apple give any quarter in their decisions to change their operaing systems and you often get little or no warning that an App is now deemed to ‘violate the guidelines’.

One of the most frustrating bugs to fix was that Android, or at least the vesion on my test tablet, insists on automatically opening zip files. That meant that I couldn’t offer Archaeo-Pad as an option for these files which in turn meant the import function didn’t work. Curiously Gmail doesn’t behave that way but to provide an option for non-Gmail users I’ve changed the App so it will also recognise files named “.zap”

Other resolved issues are;

Problems with text not being saved in forms
Google maps did not pinch zoom when identifying location of a find
Export to photos to HTML crashed
Links between contexts weren’t always created
Export of photo forms to CSV caused problems in Excel

Tested on Android version 9 and 5.1.1 (Both on Samsung tablets)

Also on Android 7 (Lenovo TB-7304F – cheap, but possibly the slowest tablet I’ve ever used!)

Skelly-Pad and Archaeo-Pad Updates

Nothing ever stands still in IT. The latest version of  iOS (13) caused the GPS forms in Archaeo-Pad to stop working and the latest Android version (version 7 – Nougat) has stopped the backups in Skelly-Pad from being attached to emails, making them useless.

Cue a day or so spent updating my development environment, re-compiling and tweaking. Both are now live and available to update your copy.

Still have some work to do to get Archaeo-Pad upgraded on Android, nearly there just needs another round of testing so in the meantime if you’re on Android 6 please don’t update just yet!



An Oscar for OSKER

I was  idly browsing the App Store the other day, looking at archaeological Apps, most of which are tours or educational tools, so didn’t really expect to come across anything useful.  Which made it a pleasant surprise to find OSKER, which is designed to record disarticulated human remains, including indicating which parts of a bone you have and calculating the Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI).

Developers description follows;

OSKER is designed exclusively for Osteoarchaeologists by experts in the field. It will assist in the recording of large quantities of disarticulated skeletal remains. OSKER is designed to combine the study, recording and data upload of bones into a single process. It will then facilitate the curation, editing and output of that data.

Data is collected on a project by project basis, and stored on a server. It can be re-called , appended, edited and deleted at any time. It is also possible to output a comprehensive calculation of the MNI ( Minimum Number of Individuals) from each project. The full project data can also be output as a list and easily formatted into a table for use in reports or other written documentation.

The app requires scripts and data structures to be in place on the client server. please bear in mind that the app will not work without these in place. and while the app is free to download the server and database set up will have an associated charge.

Contact the developer for more details.

Please download the app and give it a try, the app defaults to a trial database and you can use that to try out the app. Please do not use the trial server for any critical data because it will be erased after a short period.




Skelly-Pad Update

Its been a while, so about time there was an updated version of Skelly-Pad.  Mainly prompted by requests to allow joint grading on juvenile skeletons, so I’ve added that functionality and also fixed a few bugs.

The App will prompt you from time to time to rate it on the App store – all feedback welcome! Note that this is an IOS only release for now, will update the Android version as soon I can.




Maritime Site Recording

I’m always interested in how data is recorded on different excavations, so a recent post on  Digital Archaeology Group caught my eye.  SiteRecorder is a PC based application for recording maritime archaeology using a GIS based approach.

The program has been designed for collecting data during fieldwork and creating site plans by combining detailed site drawings and survey data. Site Recorder can manage thousands of finds, photographs, survey data, dive logs, samples and documents – all the information relating to an underwater or intertidal site. Items can be associated with one another allowing quick and easy retrieval for analysis and interpretation.

I have no plans to learn to dive but I’m guessing that records aren’t made underwater using a PC, but this seems like an effective (and widely used) tool for recording shipwrecks and other underwater features.

Free demo and manuals are available here.

Worried about jargon?

There’s a fine line between using the right technical or academic terms in your writing and delivering prose that is so riddled with jargon as to be utterly incomprehensible.

If you’re worried you might have crossed the line there are some great jargon checkers around – such as this one from Instructional Solutions.

Also worth checking that you haven’t accidentally used someone else’s words – however perfect they are! Online plagiarism detectors include grammarly, bibme and quetext


GPS and Photos Added to Archaeo-Pad

One of the cardinal rules of programming is that things are never as simple as they seem. Many people asked if I could add a location feature to Archaeo-Pad and since I’d already built location based Apps  thought it would be pretty straightforward. And adding the map forms and latitude/longitude was. The trouble is that people don’t actually use Lat/Long and a quick review of UK and US practice revealed that I’d need to convert the GPS coordinates into OS Grid References (with and without the Grid Letters) and UTM (Universal  Transverse Mercator).

Not being a geographer or cartographer I very nearly gave up a that point, but fortunately the internet and open source software came to the rescue and provided me with modules that, with a little tinkering, I could incorporate into Archaeo-pad.  So thanks are due to Chris Veness for the OS Grid conversion and Timothy Gu for UTM.

New version now live on iTunes and Google Play





New Silchester dig info added to Calleva

It took a bit of a nudge from Apple (who removed the App from the Appstore for going too long without an update) but I have finally managed to update Calleva with the details of the last few digging seasons.

A lot has changed, since I wrote the App as part of the ‘Careers in Archaeology Module’ at Reading. Then we were in the last year of a 25 year exploration of Insula IX, the section I worked on was well into the Iron Age and had uncovered a defensive ditch from the pre-Roman settlement.

Now if you go to Silchester there’s just grass where there used to be a massive hole! But happily, after a short break to investigate Marden Henge in Wiltshire, Reading have returned to Silchester,  finding a previously unknown temple with mystery placement of Nero stamped tiles, and last season re-excavating the bath house.

For the full story see or download the Calleva App to take a tour.




LiDAR How-to Guide

I’m far from being a GIS expert, though starting to work through some ideas on exporting data from Archaeo-Pad into GIS, so it was very timely to see a post on a LiDAR to GIS tutorial posted on the BAJR facebook page by Jost Hobic.

Its a step by step tutorial on how to process data from a LiDAR pointcloud to DTM raster that is ready for visualization using free and open source GIS software.

This tutorial was also published in Journal of Slovenian archaeological society.

Jost also maintains a list of free access LiDAR and DTM data…

Thanks to Jost Hobic for permission to re-post;


Abject plagiarism (Always have a backup plan)

Pottering around looking for useful archaeology related sites I happened across a post from CoDA titled “Always Have a backup Plan” and it put the case so simply and effectively I wanted to share it.

Its stating the blindingly obvious, but phones and tablets break, get dropped in puddles, decide to stop working for no apparent reason. So while they’re very useful and generally reliable you still need a backup.

As Nikki from CoDA says (I summarise);

Keep lots of backups, keep them on different media and don;t keep them all in one place.

I’d add one further tip, which is to check from time to time that you can actually read your backups – you’d be amazed how often a crisis occurs and its only then that people discover the backup wasn’t working properly.

Archaeo-Pad will nag you make a backup, the default setting is every 2 days, if you want to live dangerously settingswill take to the Preferences page where you can extend the interval.

I’d recommend leaving the setting alone and sending a backup to yourself by email at least once a day, just make it the last thing you do before cleaning off your trowel! And make a separate copy to the cloud or to a hard drive as well.