Only two weeks now until we head out to the Sunshine Coast and the crew is starting to get excited. We are loading up our gear, including this pile of toolkits and iPads. Building on the success of Dr. Matthew Betts’ E’se’get Archaeology Project, we will be going “paperless” this year. You can check out past seasons of his archaeology project blog here: http://coastalarchaeology.wordpress.com/.
This summer all of our forms, profiles and field notes will be digital (in .pdf format) and created on our six project iPads. This should provide us with a huge time savings, as we won’t need to transcribe, trace or otherwise tinker with field data after we return from the field. We have modified Matt’s forms somewhat to meet our specific needs. I will post downloadable versions that you can use soon. In the meantime have a look at our layout and let me know what you think.
Another huge benefit to using iPads is the accessibility of reference material. I have compiled information booklets on the local culture history, artifact manufacturing, different types of stone, bone, antler and shell artifacts, skeletal diagrams of common animals we might encounter and a few other interesting topics. All of these are loaded onto the iPads so that each excavation unit has them at their fingertips.
I think every Northwest Coast archaeologist has a standard five-minute speech explaining why we find plenty of fire cracked rock in sites. We explain that there was no pottery in the region and people used cedar bentwood boxes instead to cook some of their meals, which of course could not be placed over the fire. Rocks were heated and placed with tongs, into the water-filled boxes to heat the liquid and cook food within. The rapid change in temperature sometimes caused the rocks to shatter or explode, hence the FCR we find so commonly in sites. I, myself, have given that speech dozens and dozens of times to students and the public.
This year however, I will turn on the iPad and show them. A pdf of a picture is worth a thousand words, and we have lots of pdfs, including ones showing traditional cooking using heated stones and bentwood boxes. I also included ones on how a bentwood box is made. I am hoping that this technology will make knowledge transfer much easier.