Forms for Skulls!

Archaeo-Pad is mainly aimed at recording data on site, but one of my Skelly-Pad contacts pointed out that it might also be a good tool to capture measurements from skeletons – particularly if you don’t want to do a complete skeleton inventory , which is what Skelly-Pad is aimed at.

After a bit of checking for the right measurements to collect I’ve put together a form to record the cranial measurements (that’s skull for nom-osteologists!) needed to do an ancestry assessment using the widely used CranID software created by Richard Wright.

I’ve also created a Forms Library to hold custom forms, so if you design a form you think other people might find useful and are willing to share just let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

 

 

 

Why build a ‘Cut and Fill’ App?

Archaeo-Pad grew out of my experiences developing Skelly-Pad, an App for recording skeletons, which itself came about because I needed a subject for my final year dissertation for  BSc in Archaeology at the University of Reading. Being an IT specialist by background I was convinced it would be possible to build digital tools that would genuinely help archaeologists, who, it has to be said, are not always hugely receptive to new technology!

Lots of people suggested that a simple ‘Cut and Fill’ recording App would be useful so that’s what started me off developing Archaeo-Pad. There’s really 4 key principles behind it;

  1. Archaeologists differ in their approach to recording, often for very good reasons, so the App needed to allow people to create their own forms
  2. It needed to add value over and above the standard Apps that already exists – so it concentrates on the archaeology features (like Level calculations) and I decided not to try and build a drawing App – there are plenty of those already
  3. Data should only have to be entered once. Paper forms often ask for the same data to be entered multiple times, so if things go wrong you can track down the right plan, section or whatever. Archaeo-Pad makes it easy to keep track of which context belongs to which plan, sample, level and so on
  4. A proper, functioning App needs to have backups, exports and print facilities – so Archaeo-Pad includes an annoying backup reminder and lets you export data in printable format (HTML) or to a CSV, so you can pass context lists or finds lists on for processing in the office.

I used the prototype myself on a dig last year, and came back with lots of improvements, but it worked very nicely as a personal ‘dig notebook’  and will work just as well to record a complete dig.

Next stop,  linking Archaeo-Pad up with repositories such as iadb, ARK, Archie and Interris.

Archaeo-Pad on Amazon

Not many people know that any Android App can also be published for use on Amazon Kindle Fire tablets without any modification. So happy to day that Archaeo-Pad is now on Amazon.

For an entry level, low cost tablet the Fire is pretty good – its a little slower than my iPad and Samsung tablets but the cheapest is £50 – so not a bad place to start and they’re also pretty robust.

Devils in the Detail!

It doesn’t seem to matter how carefully you check a program or calculation, or an academic source, somehow errors always seem to creep in. I’m indebted to Alastair Thomson from the University of Reading for spotting that the stature calculations based on Femur Length in Skelly-Pad were wrong. Initially we thought there was just a  single error but after poring over the source I used originally and a variety of standard texts it appears that there was systematic error in the Femur table I had used.

I suspect that it was a simple swapping of rows from one table to the other, an easy thing to do when you’re copying lists of numbers. The Skelly-Pad calculations have been fixed (and checked and re-checked) against the table in Human skeletal remains : excavation, analysis, interpretation  Ubelaker (1999).

I also took the opportunity to add the calculations for Mexican and Mongoloid males (not sure why there are no females?), new version on Apple and Android now available.

 

Skelly-Pad – New version released

The latest version of Skelly-Pad includes a number of features that have been requested by users in the field, particularly those excavating the numerous cemetries that are found all round the UK. This version is available on iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

New features include;

  • Ability to manage large numbers of skeleton using folders, move skeletons between folders, export and import folders, delete folders
  • Record Joints and Joint Pathology
  • Record Cranial measurements using CRANID measurements and export in CRANID ready format
  • New Adult Skeleton format based on the Museum of London recording standards
  • Ability to import skeletons from other users archives – see Skeleton Archive for an initial set of data from the Wellcome Osteological database
  • Add new values for Ancestry

See Google Play or iTunes App Store to downlaod.

Level-Pad – New version released

Feedback on Level-Pad from excavators has been very positive,  but in real life people wanted more flexibility in organising their work. So the latest release allows you to organise Level Pages into Collections, and to export or import Collections or single Pages.

You can also add or delete single Levels from a page.