The iPad is an ideal tool for field archaeology.

This blog sets out to bring together experiences of archaeologists using iPads.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Virtual archaeology uncovers secrets of ancient Rome

An Indiana University archaeo-informaticist has used virtual simulations to flip the calendar back thousands of years and show for the first time the historical significance of the unique alignment of the sun with two monuments tied to the founder of the Roman Empire.

Virtual archaeology uncovers secrets of ancient Rome
Virtual simulation image of the sun atop the obelisk with the Altar of
Peace in the foreground [Credit : Indiana University]
For nearly a half-century, scholars had associated the relationship between the Ara Pacis, the “Altar of Peace” dedicated in 9 BC to then-emperor Augustus, and the Obelisk of Montecitorio -- a 71-foot-high granite obelisk Augustus brought to Rome from Egypt -- with Augustus’ Sept. 23 birthday.

Prevailing research had found that on this day, the shadow of the obelisk -- serving as the pointer, or gnomon, of a giant sundial on the plaza floor -- would point toward the middle of the Ara Pacis, which the Roman Senate had commissioned to recognize the peace brought to the Roman Empire through Augustus' military victories.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Online in 3D: the 'grotesque beauty' of medieval Britons' diseased bones

Digitised Diseases site makes 1,600 specimens available for doctors and members of the public to study for free

A deformed skull, one of the 1,600 specimens available to explore in 3D on the Digitised Diseases website from Monday.
The bones of a young woman who died of syphilis more than 500 years ago, the reassembled jaw of a man whose corpse was sold to surgeons at the London hospital in the 19th century and the contorted bone of an 18th-century man who lived for many years after he was shot through the leg, are among the remains of hundreds of individuals which can now be studied in forensic detail on a new website.
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Google ME View: Giant now lets anyone map their surroundings and upload them using a smartphone

Google’s Street View project has mapped the landmarks of Venice, the interiors of train stations and even the Large Hadron Collider.

But now anyone can document views of their favourite locations, which might not have been visited by Google’s cameras.

Members of the public can use an Android smartphone or camera to take photographs and transform them into 'photo spheres' using ‘Views’, which is a new feature of Google Maps.

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Google lets users create own Street View

Google said the new tool will help it expand the reach and uses of Street View

Google has unveiled a new tool that allows users to create a Street View - a 360 degree virtual tour - of any place and share it using Google Maps.
These can be created by using photos taken by an Android phone or DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.
The tool lets users connect various photos and, once published, people can navigate between them on Google Maps.
Google said the move will allow it to expand the reach as well as the uses of its maps service.
(Could be useful for virtual site tours!)
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Building is underway at The new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, The Salisbury Museum

Anglo-Saxon satchel mount c.700 AD. Gold and Silver foils with repoussé decoration. 
Found with the burial of an Anglo-Saxon ‘princess’ at Swallowcliffe, Salisbury.
Amesbury Archer Gold Hair Tresses - 2,300 BC. The oldest gold objects found in Britain, 
Copyright Ken Geiger/National Geographic.
Polished macehead made from gneiss found with a cremation burial at Stonehenge,  3,000 – 2,500 BC.

Building is underway at The new Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, 
The Salisbury Museum

Building has begun on the new Wessex Gallery at the Salisbury Museum, which will make it clear for the first time exactly why Salisbury and it’s nearby World Heritage Sites hold a unique place in British history.

The new gallery will be of international importance, telling the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area from prehistoric times to the Norman Conquest. Realm Projects, the Nottinghamshire based builders who worked on the Hepworth Wakefield and The Jewish Museum, have been contracted to complete the works.

“By Christmas this year the major construction work will be complete,” said museum director Adrian Green with a gleam in his eye. “In roughly seven months, the new Wessex Gallery will be ready.”

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Make any database into your very own iPad app with FileMaker

If you need to hack around with some data, unless you're a specialist, you put it in Excel. It's a universal data-munging engine that lets you add, average, sort, filter, and process your data to see what the patterns might be. Excel is enormously powerful. But it's a terrible place to keep your data, still less to capture it. Typing and tabbing between fiddly little cells where copy and paste doesn't work the way it does in any other software makes data entry painful when you have a mouse and keyboard; unless you have a Windows 8 tablet with a pen like Surface Pro, you probably wouldn't attempt filling in more than the odd number in Excel on a tablet. If you need to store an inventory, a catalog, or a list of anything, what you need is a database.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Gamers take aim at ancient Pictish stone puzzle

Jigsaw from 800AD: screenshot of the software program that allows gamers and others to play with 3,000 fragments in 3D. Picture: Contributed

ONLINE gaming fans are to be recruited by Scotland’s national museum to harness their technical skills to help piece together more than 3,000 recently discovered fragments depicting the Cross on a Pictish slab.

The project, the first of its kind in the archaeological world, will see participants use a unique 3D programme developed by a Scottish technology firm to try to solve the mystery of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone.

Computer experts believe people who play computer games are more adept at manipulating objects on screen. Nasa has already made use of citizen astronomers who use home computers to sift through time-lapsed data from the Kepler space telescope to search for habitable exo-planets, planets outside the solar system.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Digital world. Image: Marcus Abbott

Imagine the possibilities as you explore a stunning visualisation of a 3D digital world generated from archaeological and paleo-environmental data. It already exists, but needs your help in order to make it freely available to the world.

A virtual prehistoric world

This project offers a visual representation of what is known about an ancient landscape, combining detailed archaeological and scientific data with cutting edge digital recording and visualisation techniques to produce a virtual world, but so real that the past and present become one.
The world you will enter is over 3500 years ago; the Bronze Age of East Anglia, UK  and focuses on an area known to be of great ritual significance during this period.

A liminal wetland environment

The landscape is a liminal wetland environment and what you will be able to explore has been generated entirely digitally. The archaeology has been painstakingly reconstructed from evidence found on sites in the area; round houses, wooden platforms, track ways, fences and even the great causeway structures of Flag Fen are all present.
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iOS 7: readers tips on hidden iPhone and iPad features

While some of the headline-grabbing features of iOS 7 will only be available on the new iPhone 5S, like the fingerprint ID function, there are many hidden tweaks and new features for older devices..

While some of the headline-grabbing features of iOS 7 will only be available on the new iPhone 5S, like the fingerprint ID function, there are many hidden tweaks and new features for older devices.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review of Tour of the Nile [iPad App]

Reviewed by Helen Strudwick (July 2013)

Cite this as: Strudwick, H. (2013). Review of Tour of the Nile [iPad App]. Internet Archaeology 34
Helen Strudwick, Exhibitions Officer, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK. Email:
Review of: Petrie Museum's Tour of the Nile app (University College London, 2013 ). Available: Free app, released: Feb 12, 2013. Size: 88.7 MB. Version 1.1 released: Jul 2, 2013. Size: 103 MB. See also
In February 2013, the Petrie Museum released a new iPad app, available for download at no charge from the iTunes App Store. Version 1.1 was released in July 2013. The app is entitled Tour of the Nile and promises 'a virtual journey along the Nile Valley' plus the chance to 'handle' objects through the technology of augmented reality.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Archaeology Britain iPad App

The Archaeology Data Service and the British Library are pleased to announce the release of the Archaeology Britain iPad App.
The Archaeology Britain iPad app is a collaboration between The British Library and the ADS to create an accessible iPad app with unique and interesting content from both organisations. The app presents antiquarian drawings, paintings and maps for some of Britain's most important archaeological sites. The curated content provides unique and rarely seen perspectives for a wide range of sites from the stone age to the 20th century. The types of sites within the app are castles, churches, megaliths, settlements, and the defense of Britain. 

The app's target audience is the general public, and it is unique due to the rare content provided from the British Library archives. Much of the British Library content is not publically accessible, so the app offers a privileged view of some of the institutions most treasured collections. Additionally open content from the ADS and other sources were included to provide context to the British Library content.

Find out more...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oxford Experience 2014

The programme for the Oxford Experience Summer School is now online.  Registration will not begin until late September, but now is the time to start planning your courses for next summer.

You can find the programme here...

Monday, July 29, 2013

3D Virtual Dig: a 3D Application for Teaching Fieldwork in Archaeology

Archaeology is a material, embodied discipline; communicating this experience is critical to student success. In the context of lower-division archaeology courses, the present study examines the efficacy of 3D virtual and 2D archaeological representations of digs. This presentation aims to show a 3D application created to teach the archaeological excavation process to freshmen students. An archaeological environment was virtually re-created in 3D, and inserted in a virtual reality software application that allows users to work with the reconstructed excavation area. The software was tested in class for teaching the basics of archaeological fieldwork. The application interface is user-friendly and especially easy for 21st century students. The study employed a pre-survey, post-test, and post-survey design, used to understand the students' previous familiarity with archaeology, and test their awareness after the use of the application.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Acropolis becomes digitally accessible

The Acropolis Educational Resources Repository includes educational resources produced by the Information and Education Department of the Acropolis Restoration Service. Teachers, students and families can search the open access repository and enrich their teaching with valuable material related to the archaeological site and the Acropolis Museum, namely printable documents, brochures, photos, films, publications, digital games etc.

The Acropolis becomes digitally accessible

The user can choose a category (Educator, Visitor, Family, Student) and navigate through the repository’s content. This way students can easily find reference materials, teachers have free access to rich material and sources of inspiration to plan their lesson, and parents and visitors can get informed to prepare themselves for a visit to the archaeological site and the Museum of Acropolis.

Offering navigation options that vary according to the role of the user, the subject (Architecture, Sculpture, Goddess Athena, Daily Life, Restoration) or the monument (Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia), the material can be easily located.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3D reconstruction of medieval Nieszawa

Animation by Jakub Zakrzewski and Stanisław Rzeźnik.

In 2012, precise location of medieval town Nieszawa was determined. And that's without sinking a shovel into the ground, with the use of non-invasive methods. Now, a professional, 3D reconstruction of the settlement has been prepared for everyone to see on YouTube.
Animation authors are Jakub Zakrzewski and Stanisław Rzeźnik, who created a preliminary reconstruction of the medieval Nieszawa in collaboration with Piotrand Wroniecki and Michał Pisz, and with archaeological and historical consultation with Lidia Grzeszkiewicz-Kotlewska and Leszek Kotlewski, dr. Jerzy Sikora and Dariusz Osiński.

Today’s Nieszawa is a small town situated on the west bank of the Vistula River, 30 km upstream from Toruń. Its history dates back to the thirteenth century, when it was given to the Teutonic Order by Konrad I Mazowiecki in 1228 (today small town Mała Nieszawka). Over the next 200 years, the town location changed twice. After the defeat at Grunwald, the Teutonic Knights were forced to tear down the Commandery and the castle. However, already in 1424 Władyslaw Jagiello founded Mała Nieszawka near Toruń. After 1460, the town was moved several miles up the Vistula, where it remains today.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

New archaeology apps may make you an armchair Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford Indiana Jones idol.jpg

A new app for tablets and smartphones will soon transport you to actual dig sites and ancient civilizations around the world, from China to Egypt to Peru, without getting you down into the mud, muck and malaria that often characterizes an archeological site.

It should help keep a curious public clued in to our amazing history, said Shawn Ross, an archeologist with the University of New South Wales in Australia.           
“Maybe it’s because we’ve all seen Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Ross told “Whether I’m in Sydney or Seattle or rural Bulgaria -- where my fieldwork has been for the past eight years or so -- people want to stop and talk about what you’re doing, what you’re finding, and what it all means.”

But communicating that information is little different today than it was for the whip-wielding Dr. Jones in the 40s. Most modern archaeology is a surprisingly low-tech process, he said: fieldwork recorded on paper and, sometimes, entered later into Excel spreadsheets, an Access database or perhaps some form of geolocation software.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Online Courses in Archaeology

University of Oxford Online Courses in Archaeology
Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.
These courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.
The following courses are available:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tracing our footsteps: archaeology in the digital age

Human ancestors that walked the earth left few traces of their passage. Some of their footprints have lithified, or turned to stone, but some survive to this day, unlithified, in soft sediment such as silt. These fragile records of ancient footprints pose a sizable challenge to archaeologists today: how do you preserve the ephemeral? According to new research published in PLOS ONE, the answer may be to “record and digitally rescue” these footprint sites.
The authors explored two methods in this study: digital photogrammetry, where researchers strategically photograph an object in order to derive measurements; and optical laser scanning, where light is used to measure the object’s physical properties. To begin, the authors filled trays with mixtures of sand, cement, and plaster and instructed a participant to walk through these samples. Four wooden 1 cm cubes were then placed beside a select number of footprints and photographs were taken. A laser scanner was then used to measure the same footprints. This simple procedure was also replicated outside of the lab, at a beach in North West England.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Course materials can be downloaded on to mobile devices and accessed by students wherever they are. Photograph: Mike Harrington/Lifesize

Students on the University of Leicester's new distance learning MSc in security, conflict and international development face more challenges than the average distance learner. For example, some students might spend weeks with no access to an internet connection, working in a refugee camp in post-conflict countries. How does the university make sure these remote students have everything they needed to carry out their studies?
"When you're doing that sort of thing, you can't be carrying huge folders of printed material," says Prof Adrian Beck, head of the university's department of criminology. "It struck us that we needed to find a way for them to transport our materials that is highly flexible but low-weight, and gives them access to all the material they will need while on the go."
The solution was to give every student on the course a free iPad, on to which they could download a bespoke app and all the course materials. Despite concerns from the university about security and technical support, the plan has gone smoothly. A few months into the MSc, no iPads have been lost or stolen and students have responded with enthusiasm.

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ARCHI The Archaeological Sites Index

ARCHI, the online searchable archaeological database, has added a new feature that allows users to add sites to their world-wide database.

The online form is easy to use and should prove to be an extremely useful addition to this site.

You can find the online form at:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Archaeology Summer Courses at Oxford

The Oxford Experience is offering a number of archaeology courses this summer.

Each course lasts for one week and participants stay in the 16th century college of Christ Church.

The courses offered are:

Cathedrals of Britain by James Bond
An Introduction to Archaeology by David Beard
The Black Death by Trevor Rowley (course full)
Bishop Odo and the Bayeux Tapestry by Trevor Rowley
Colleges of Oxford by Julian Munby
The Architecture and Archaeology of Medieval Churches by David Beard (course full)
Cotswold Towns by Trevor Rowley
Treasures of the British Museum by Michael Duigan (course full)
Churches of England by Kate Tiller
Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum by Gail Bent
The Age of Stonehenge by Scott McCracken
The World of the Vikings by David Beard

You can find further details here...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

EMAS Easter Study Tour to Yorkshire

There are still a few places available on the Easter archaeological study tour to Yorkshire.

The Study Tour is organized by EMAS, the University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society, and is open to any one.

You can find further details here...

Iceman gets iPhone, iPad apps for kids

Italy's famous Iceman mummy is set to hit iPads and iPhones with a new app allowing youngsters to learn about his Copper Age life and the stream of scientific discoveries made about him.

The application aims to provide "fun ways to get to know Europe's oldest natural human mummy", including games featuring his well-known tattoos - rumoured to have been copied by Brad Pitt - and "his extraordinary gear including his bow and arrow", said the Larixpress publishing house in the Iceman's northern Italian hometown of Bolzano.

Larixpress developed the app in collaboration with the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) Archaeological Museum, where the mummy is kept in a refrigerated cell. New discoveries about the 5,300-year-old Iceman, dug out of a northern Italian glacier in 1991 and also known as Oetzi from the Alpine valley where he was found, are being made all the time.

Last May traces of blood were found on him, the oldest blood sample ever found.

A year ago the first complete DNA map of the ancient man found that he was lactose intolerant, or unable to digest a sugar in milk.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digital dig: The scanning technology revolutionising archaeology

Archaeologists may not need to get their hands so dirty any more, thanks to the kind of digital technology being pioneered at Southampton University.
Its 'µ-VIS Centre for Computed Tomography' possesses the largest, high energy scanner of its kind in Europe: a 'micro-CT' machine manufactured by Nikon.
Capable of resolutions better than 0.1mm - the diameter of a human hair - it allows archaeologists to carefully examine material while still encased in soil.
Using visualisation software, archaeologists can then analyse their finds in 3D. This keeps the material in its original form, and postpones any commitment to the painstaking process of excavation by hand.
Graeme Earl and Mark Mavrogordato of Southampton University, and Alexandra Baldwin of the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research at the British Museum, explained how they have worked together to unlock the secrets of a cauldron found at a site in Chiseldon, Swindon - the largest archaeological find of its type in Europe.

Watch the video...

Harvard Uses 3-D Printing to Replicate Ancient Statue

Joseph Greene, (right) Assistant Director, Semitic Museum and Adam Aja, Assistant Curator of Collections, Semitic Museum discuss the creation of a digital 3-d model of a lion statue dating to the Nuzi period inside the Semitic Museum at Harvard University.

3-D printing may be the wave of the future, but the technique—which is shaking up how architects, scientists, arms manufacturers and countless others go about their trade—will also now redeem the past.

Our story begins some 3,300 years ago, when a rampaging army ransacked the town of Nuzi whose ruins now lie southwest of the modern day Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The conquerors—the Assyrians, one of the more bullying empires of Mesopotamian antiquity—overran the town’s defenses, burned down its buildings, slaughtered or enslaved its inhabitants and looted its temples. What was not plundered was left, in many instances, smashed, tossed down wells and discarded in the smoldering wreck of the city. And there it lay for millennia until a team of archaeologists spearheaded by a number of American universities excavated the site in 1930 and unearthed its broken treasures.

Among the finds at Yorghan Tepe (the modern day name for the site where Nuzi once stood) were a set of lions thought to have flanked an installation of a statue of the goddess Ishtar. These and other objects were, under the colonial administration of the time, divided between local authorities and foreign archaeologists. The remains of one lion—fragments of its hindquarters and front paws—were claimed by Harvard’s Semitic Museum, while another more intact one made its way to the University of Pennsylvania. A decade ago, the two lions were reunited when Penn allowed their statue to be sent to the Semitic Museum on loan; it’s believed the lions were once mirror images of each other (their tails move in opposite directions).

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day, February 6, 2013, is a national celebration of educators that shines a spotlight on successful instructional technology practice in classrooms across the country. Join the wave of innovation sweeping through our nation's schools. Participation is free and easy. Sign up now, plan your local activities and plan to watch the National Digital Town Hall that will be simulcast live from the Newseum in Washington, DC!

Visit the website... 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shakespeare's sonnets encoded in DNA

When written in DNA, one of Shakespeare's sonnets weighs 0.3 millionths of a millionth of a gram. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

His words have touched the lovelorn and been pored over by brooding teenagers for more than four hundred years, but now some of the most romantic poems ever penned have been written into the code of life.

The entire collection of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets has been spelled out in DNA by scientists in Cambridge to demonstrate the vast potential of genetic storage. Huge quantities of information could be written into specks of DNA and archived for tens of thousands of years, the researchers claim.

Alongside the Bard's sonnets, the scientists made strands of DNA that stored part of an audio file of Martin Luther King's 1963 speech "I have a dream", and the seminal research paper that first described the double helical nature of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson, a decade earlier.

Written in DNA, one of Shakespeare's sonnets weighs 0.3 millionths of a millionth of a gram. One gram of DNA could hold as much information as more than a million CDs, the researchers said.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Archaeology: Where is it going?

Where is archaeology going? As archaeologists, it’s not exactly in our nature to postulate about the future. Written by James Spry

The past, of course, is kind of our thing. “Learning about our past will guide our future” – or other such anecdotes, are the bread and butter of any discussion between an archaeologist and an inquisitive member of the public.  Yes, this is true and it’s what archaeology is all about. It’s the passionate plea to learn about the world our ancestors lived in instead of dawning too much on the scary and ever changing present. Let’s be honest, every time we turn on the news or, heaven-for-bid, accidentally witness the  homepage of the Daily Mail website, with its too-fat-too-thin celebrity updates, we are hardly inspired by thoughts of the future.

It’s all too understandable why we inadvertently reminisce about a past life we never lived or engross ourselves in a material culture and that we will never full understand. And it’s such a drive to immerse ourselves in the past that has made archaeology so damn popular, why thousands of people donate their weekends to walking up and down muddy fields and why millions of us are now terrified what we will soon have to watch ‘I’m a Celebrity Pop Idol’ on a Sunday night instead of letting Phil Harding show us his unique X-Factor.

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New Online Israel Archaeology Archive

From the new Israel Archaeology Archive

Israel’s Antiquities Authority (IAA) has launched a new Israel Archaeological Archive, to be accessible on the Internet in English, with a general explanation also available in Hebrew.        
A Heritage Program jointly initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office and the IAA, the digital archive will feature tens of thousands of documents, photos, maps and plans from the period of British Mandate (1919-1948), ranging from Akko to Jerusalem.

“The archive is an invaluable project, a site that will consolidate some 30,000 Israeli antiquities web sites into one location for worldwide access,” explained Dr. Uzi Dahari, deputy director of the Antiquities Authority. “The scientific importance of the archive is invaluable; it is the only one of its kind in Israel and in the world. In Israel there are approximately 30,000 known and declared antiquities sites that constitute our heritage – the largest and most important asset of the State of Israel.”

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