As some of you may know – but most of you probably don’t – fellow Reckless Historian David and I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Cyprus in May 2012 to work on an archeological dig with Dr. David Pettegrew, the ancient history professor at Messiah College. It was an incredible experience that I would love to repeat someday. The trip consisted of four weeks of exciting archeological work with the Pyla-Koustopetria Archeological Project (PKAP) team. Long days digging, sifting, sorting, categorizing, cleaning and cataloging contained some of my favorite memories from my first year in college.
Before leaving for Cyprus, all the students were issued iPads to be used for field, academic, and/or personal work. Each archeological trench was also given an iPad to photograph the stratigraphic layers and collect the data-entry forms that are essential to all archeological processes. Dr. Pettegrew wrote several blog posts about the use of iPads in Cyprus and, speaking as a student, I found them extremely helpful. As a first time archeology student, it was much easier to fill out forms that gave clear options as to what type of soil was in the layer or how rocky it was. Seems simple but it was surprisingly difficult to remember the specific options like “silty loam” or “sandy clay” so the app created for our work helped create a more reliable account of each stratigraphic layer. The iPads were a big success with the team because they helped to keep a more organized and paperless database that was easily and readily accessible.
During my time in Cyprus, I did not understand how important our work in the field might be for future archeologists. We acted as the tests to see if technology was a successful tool in the field and my honest opinion is that they are a very efficient and effective asset to archeology. I know there will be some who don’t want to lose the old paper and pencil ways but technology can be a strong ally in organization. All of the data-entry forms were stored in the iPad and then transferred onto a computer database, which meant that we could not forget any papers or lose them in the shuffle of documents. All in all, digitalization of the field of archeology is something that I see as an advancement in the efficiency and convenience of archeological fieldwork.