#279 Wildnote and CRM Archaeology

Here's another re-post from Wildnote - this time from the blog. It's a quick explanation of all the tools currently available for CRM Archaeologists.

CA DPRa Primary form export example.

CA DPRa Primary form export example.

Wildnote Delivers Ready-to-Use Cultural Resources Management Forms and Exports

Calling all Cultural Resources Managers and field staff (aka shovelbums): Wildnote has just released a suite of 48 CRM forms and exports that can ease your evolution into digital recording and reporting. We believe that just because you record the past, doesn’t mean you have to live in it! We are very fortunate to have digital data collection pioneer, Chris Webster, a CRM archaeologist with DIGTECH and the Archaeology Podcast Network on our staff guiding the development of these new CRM tools. He has put countless hours into designing and testing forms and quality assuring the state agency exports. The Photo Sheet and Photo Log alone will save you countless hours, and we even have a FCC 620/621 form.

Read the rest of the article here.

#261 What Apple’s Sept Event Means for Archaeology

On September 9, 2015, Apple held their annual Fall product announcement event. They have so many product lines now that they didn’t spend the first 30 minutes talking about how awesome they are and how much money they’re making. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, just went right into new stuff. 

I’m not going to cover everything in this post - just the stuff I think is beneficial to archaeologists and archaeology. Honestly, though, if you found this post through non-archaeological means and you’re a field scientist, this stuff will still benefit you.

Apple Watch

Since it’s arrival in April, the Apple Watch (not the iWatch for some reason) has taken the wearables space by storm. It’s not as big as some of the competition and it’s not even as powerful as some, but, what it does do, it does with classic Apple style and grace.

The first iteration of the software, WatchOS 1, is quite functional. I use my Apple Watch for many of the small tasks that I used to pull my iPhone 6+ out for. Let’s be honest, the 6+ is a massive phone and pulling it out of your pocket or bag every time someone sends a Candy Crush invite can get a little annoying. Instead, I see the notification come over my Apple Watch and I either dismiss it or quickly respond to it. Quite handy. A word of warning to manners-conscious people: when you look at a silent notification that announced itself by simply lighting up the screen, others around you think that you’re looking at the time and are getting impatient. I tell people that it was a notification, not the time. We have to recondition the general public regarding watches and what they mean. They’re not just time-pieces any more.

OS2 isn’t a major upgrade since the hardware isn’t being upgraded, but, it does bring a few notable improvements.

Time Travel. On the face of the watch, you can now rotate the digital crown to advance all of the displays on the watch forward in time. This will show you upcoming calendar appointments, sunset/sunrise, and whatever else you have on the custom face that is temporally based.

Facebook Messenger. For many, Facebook Messenger has replaced text messaging. Especially for people that constantly talk to people outside of their own country and can’t text them at a reasonable cost. With WatchOS 1 messages display on the watch face but you can only dismiss them. You have to go to the phone to reply. Now, it’ll be built in and you can reply on the watch with a canned response or you can dictate to Siri for voice translation or a simple voice recording.

iTranslate. I’ve used Microsoft Translator before and iTranslate seems to do much the same thing with some really nice features. On the watch, you’ll be able to speak a phrase into the watch and see the translation on the face AND hear the translation as well. It’ll be great for all you world travelers out there, or, those that work in Boston or the deep South!

GoPro Control. This new OS will allow you to use the watch as a secondary display for certain GoPro cameras. You can set the device at a location and watch it from your watch. You can also start and stop recording. GoPro control isn’t too useful for archaeology, however, I’m thinking of other things you can do. For example, can you see the display on, and control, a pole-mounted DSLR camera for taking overviews of sites and features? That would be nice.

So, while some of these might not be directly beneficial, the technology behind them is. Other developers will come on board and do interesting things with the new features available to them and we’ll all benefit in the long run.


The iPad line got a chipset upgrade, as usual, and the prices mostly remained the same. The biggest announcement was the arrival of the iPad Pro. First, let’s get the specs out of the way:

  • 12.9 inch screen (measured diagonally)
      • 5.6 million pixels (more than a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display)
      • Variable refresh rate display: when things aren’t moving on the screen it slows the graphics processor down to save power)
    • A9x Processor
      • 1.8x faster than the current iPad.
      • Desktop class performance
      • Faster than 80% of the portable PCs on the market
      • Edit three screens of 4k video in iMovie with ease
    • 8MP iSight camera on the back
    • Dimensions
      • 6.9 mm thick (just a hair more than the current iPad Air 2)
      • 1.57 lbs (only 0.03 lbs more than the iPad Air 2)
    • New smart keyboard case ($169)
    • New stylus available ($99) called the Apple Pencil
      • Charges by plugging into the lightening connector on the iPad
    • Starts at $799

While I feel this iPad, and the iPad Air, are too big to carry around for survey in the hot desert sun (I prefer my iPad Mini to my iPad Air 2), this iPad is ideal for excavations and testing. With the Apple Pencil, you can draw amazing detail on profiles and overviews. Really, anything you can do on paper with a pencil, you can now do with the iPad Pro. The new processor will give it more power and developers will soon be coming out with traditionally desktop-only apps for use. This might just be a true PC-killer. I’ll update on functionality when mine gets here!


3D touch graphic.

3D touch graphic.

The iPhone 6S and 6S+ were announced and are available for pre-order on Saturday. They’ll be shipped on Sept 18, I believe.

The new iPhones both have the new A9 chip which makes them 70% faster on the CPUand 90% faster on graphics than the current models. The new M9 motion co-processor gives more accurate health and fitness data that is always on and Siri is also always listening now. Previous models required the phone to be plugged in to use “Hey Siri”. Now, though, she’s always listening.

The touch ID has been redesigned and is now much faster to respond. I have touch ID turned on for all my devices. Passcodes are easy to forget.

12MP camera!

12MP camera!

The biggest news for me is the back camera. It’s now 12MP and shoots 4K video! Yay! I can use it for the NV BLM (10MP camera requirement)!

The new phones also have Force Touch, or, 3D touch, similar to the Apple Watch. It lets you gain a lot more functionality when tapping on your phone. You can "peek" in an app by pressing down a little bit harder than normal. If you hold long enough the app will "pop" into place. Pretty slick and I can see many applications for archaeology. For example, having a dynamic site map where you can force touch artifacts and features to get more info.

Pricing is the same as it’s been for years with the 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB pricing at 199-299-399 for the 6S and 299-399-499 for the 6S+.

So, do you NEED to upgrade? Well, that depends on use. If you’re devices are doing what they need to do, then no. If you have an older device then you might want to just because apps will stop working at some point on older devices.

If you do replace your old iPad or iPhone, do the responsible thing and sell it to Gazelle. They’ll either refurbish it and resell it or they’ll responsibly destroy and recycle it. And, you’ll get a few dollars in your pocket. They even pay for shipping.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!!

#133 American Antiquity Editor’s Corner V. 77, No. 4

American Antiquity, October 2009 V77, No. 4.The final installment of this year’s American Antiquity begins with an “Editor’s Corner” segment from the journal’s new editor, Kenneth Sassaman. He talks about what he’s done so far and, more importantly, about some of the changes he wants to make.

Sassaman begins be saying that although he officially took over the editing job at the close of business of the SAA Annual meeting in Memphis last April he actually started reviewing submissions around the first of this year. Manuscripts that he has reviewed will start to appear in the January 2013 edition of the journal. Let that sink in for a moment. One year after acceptance “some” articles will be in the January edition. That’s 12 months! Now, for a peer-reviewed journal this is a standard turn-around time and is expected in the scientific community as a whole. Sassaman proposed a few ideas that would increase the number of articles per journal and therefore decrease the acceptance-to-publication time. First let me give you the numbers for the October 2012 issue.

There are six articles, four reports, and two comments within 196 pages in the October 2012 edition of American Antiquity. The average time for an article from submission to publication was 20 months. For reports it was 21 months. Since the journal can’t really control the amount of time an author takes revise an article or a report let’s look at Sassaman’s accepted-to-publication numbers. For articles the average was 13 months and for reports it was 12 months. The reports number is a bit low, however. For some reason one report was accepted in April of this year and only had a seven month turn around from acceptance to publication. If you throw out that number as an outlier the average goes up to 14 months for the remaining articles.

It’s admirable that Sassaman would like to decrease the amount of time from acceptance to publication and that he wants to increase the number of articles, reports, and comments in each journal, however, there is a bigger problem. I imagine that for most of the articles and reports the average time for writing was at least several months. Articles for journals such as American Antiquity are likely heavily scrutinized prior to submission and that takes time. Also, who knows how long the research took! The article may represent a season of research or the culmination of a multi-year research project. What this means is that by the time you read the article in American Antiquity the research itself is at least two years old and is likely way older than that.

In this age of Twitter, blogging, and digital media, what is the likelihood that the people poised to benefit from the article or report haven’t already heard of the results of the project? Hell they’ve probably already talked to the authors since archaeology in particular is such a small, close-knit, community. I understand that for the research to be cited and commented on it has to eventually be published. I just don’t understand why it has to take so long? If the article has been accepted why does it have to wait an entire year before it sees the light of day in the publication? The answer is that American Antiquity should have an online version so more articles and reports can make it to the scientific community and eventually to the public. We’re already paying for this journal. How much more would it cost to put articles online?

Sassaman’s answer to the publication problem is to reduce the number of words per entry which will allow for 30% more papers per issue. He is advising limits of 10,000 words for articles, 3,000 words for reports, and 1,000 words for comments. Those numbers include the abstract, the text, notes, and references cited. Sassaman believes that the acceptance to publication time can be shortened to just six months of this policy is adhered to. He also says that articles over 10,000 words will not be rejected if it really takes a few thousand more words to make your point. According the Sassaman, the current average for articles is about 12,000 words.

Personally I think the comments section can be moved entirely online. That would allow for more comments to be published by the author and whomever is commenting on the research. It would also allow for others to informally comment on the research and for the authors to get feedback much more quickly than waiting for publication.

Ultimately the answer for all print journals and publications will be to move online. There are plenty of ways to do this while still keeping their paywalls in place. The SAA has even figured out how to do that already. For current subscribers you can access the journal on the SAA website in full right when it is published. What's stopping them from adding content that didn't fit in the print version?

I’m not sure journals like American Antiquity will ever be truly free. They could, however, reduce the time the journal can be accessed online. Currently, JSTOR has the October 2009 issue as the latest one available. That’s three years back. Keeping in mind the discussion above on how long it takes an article to go from research to publication, articles in that October 2009 issue could actually be five years old or more! Just as an example, an article randomly picked from that issue was submitted on April 18, 2008. It’s time for things to change.

What do you think? Is there value in American Antiquity anymore? Or, are you only using articles from open access publications? Are you be more inclined to read AA articles online or do you still enjoy seeing those black spines lining your bookshelf? I have to admit, I do like getting the journal in the mail. There’s just something about it that makes me almost feel like a real archaeologist. Almost. Of course, I realize that print is dead. My dream is a Minority Report style interface where I can wave through my publications, including articles, books, and whatever else, and collect then in a single location for review. That’s possible now but it’s way too expensive for most archaeologists to afford. The closest I can come right now is with Evernote.

As I said above, the last three years of the journal, including the current issue, are available online at the SAA website. You have to be an SAA member, of course, but you can search the journals and download PDFs. They only have three years back because beyond that they are in JSTOR. Nice. Another paywall.

(I think I need to be peer reviewed. Maybe just reviewed, by anyone. I read these over several times and I still find spelling or grammatical errors after publishing. Ridiculous. I like that spell check wanted to change Sassaman to either Assassin or Sassafras.)

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field.

#89: Data Entry in the Field with Tap Forms

For the past, I don't know, forever, I've wanted to bring more technology into the field.  I didn't know how to do that until Apple came along and gave us the iPad.  Ever since I got my iPad 1, and then the iPad 2, I've had dreams of using it in the field to record sites and eliminate paper.  Today, I'm one step closer.

My biggest problem with making my digital site recording dream a reality is that I don't know how to program iOS apps, or program in Objective-C, or program in any language, or know a whole lot about databases.  So, I've had a lot to learn, and still do.  In the mean time I heard about this app called Tap Forms.  It goes a long way toward making digital site recording a reality.  I can do pretty much everything that I need to as far as filling out the form goes.  It won't let me fill out the artifact tables but that is the only real hang up.  Having the ability to populate a word document with everything but the artifact tables and references still saves a lot of time.  Of course, some minor editing should be done but my trial runs have shown that editing will be minimal if Crew Chiefs are taught how write in the field.  Actually, that seems to be the biggest problem: getting everyone to write well and consistently.  That's another issue for another time.

Below is a slide show that shows how I used Tap Forms and how I got the file it exported to merge with Word.

Now I just need a company to trust me enough to use it in the field.  If you try this then let me know how it went.

Note that if you change or add any lines on the form in Tap Forms you will need to change the place holders in your Word document.  If you don't change the form then you can save the word document as a template for future site forms.

Hope it works out!  Let me know!

#82 Shovelbums Guide Part 12: States with ONLINE digital site records, Introduction

This next series of blog posts answers the question, “What states have online access to site forms and reports?”  The short answer is 17 19 20 (UPDATED 3.6.12).  A number of states have digital records but you have to physically go to the records office to view them.  What surprises me a little is that you still have to pay a substantial amount of money in some states for the privilege of going all the way to the records office, by appointment, and doing your own research.  I would be much more inclined to pay for the service if I can do the research from the comfort of my own office, or Starbuck’s.

The states that have an ONLINE SITE FILES ACCESS PORTAL and not just digital records at the office are in bold.  I tried to say something about the state’s that don’t have an online system but some of the websites are seriously lacking in any sort of useful information.

In an effort to make these posts more manageable (my Pages document is 13 pages and 2700 words) I’ve split the list of states and information into the next five blog posts.  The states are listed alphabetically and at ten to a page. Click on one of the states below to go directly to the post that it is listed on.

If you have ANY more information or an update to what I have, because I’m not perfect and could have missed something, please let me know so I can update this list.  I hope this helps someone.  Enjoy.


Alabama     Alaska     Arizona     Arkansas     California     Colorado     Connecticut     Delaware     Florida     Georgia     Hawai'i     Idaho     Illinois     Indiana     Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota     Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada     New Hampshire     New Jersey    New Mexico     New York     North Carolina     North Dakota     Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania     Rhode Island     South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Vermont     Virginia     Washington     West Virginia     Wisconsin     Wyoming



I've received a few comments on other sites about online site records in other countries.  Check out the Heritage Gateway website in England for access to site information in some areas.  Also, check out the Grey Literature Library through the Archaeological Data Service.  New Zealand Archaeological Association has online records and maps available at  You need a subscription to access.

#83 Shovelbums Guide Part 12.1: Alabama to Georgia

States that have digital site records, and states that don't.

The introduction to this post is in #82.

For quick reference states that have online searchable records are in bold and are underlined.

#84: Hawai'i to Maryland

#85: Massachusetts to New Jersey

#86: New Mexico to South Carolina

#87: South Dakota to Wyoming

  •  Alabama
    • No digital site records available online.
    • Alabama Historical Commission, 106 Program website
    • UPDATE (3.3.12):
      • I recieved an email from the Alabama Office of Archaeological Research and was informed that they have a digital database for archaeological site information but it's not accessible online.  You have to go to the University of Alabama.  Check out the link.
    • UPDATE (9.27.12)
      • A number of comments on LinkedIn have revealed that Alabama in fact does have online site forms.  Apparently the site link is not searchable, which is similar to other states, and the fact that it exists at all is not readily apparent.  I'm hoping to post more information on how to gain access to this resource when I receive it.
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
    • No digital site records available online.
    • Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
      • Archaeology & Section 106 FAQ Page
  • California
    • California Historical Resources Information System
      • Includes the Historical Resources Inventory
        • Includes data on
          • Resources evaluated in local government historical resource surveys partially funded through Certified Local Government grants or in surveys which local governments have submitted for inclusion in the statewide inventory
          • Resources evaluated and determinations of eligibility (DOEs) made in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act
          • Resources evaluated for federal tax credit certifications
          • Resources considered for listing in the National and California Registers or as California State Landmarks or Points of Historical Interest
        • Maintained by the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and eleven independent regional Information Centers (ICs)
    • Fee Structure
    • Start by contacting your regional Information Center
    • UPDATE (3.3.12):
      • As per some really good discussions on LinkedIn, I found out that SOME Information Centers have digital, online, site records, and some do not.  Check your local IC for information.
  • Colorado
    • Compass:
    • Provided by the Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP)
    • Open to
      • Cultural resource professionals
      • Researchers
    • Fees
      • 10 day free trial
      • Non-refundable annual fee of $250 per organization
      • Free for non-profits and higher ed.
  • Connecticut
    • According to the Connecticut Archaeology Center website, accessed on February 17, 2012, there are over 5,000 known archaeological sites in Connecticut.  The CAC is, “now in the process of transferring site data to the computerized Geographical Information System (GIS), where it will readily be able to correlate with existing GIS topographic and environmental information including soil types, slope, proximity to water sources, exposed bedrock and vegetation patters.”
    • It doesn’t say when this will be done.
  • Delaware
    • CHRIS: Cultural & Historical Resource Information System
    • CHRIS is a web based mapping application developed to efficiently manage the preservation efforts of historic properties and assist in preservation planning.  CHRIS includes Delaware’s National Register listed properties with the nomination form and pictures for each property.  Historic District boundaries, National Historic Landmarks, and cultural resource inventory for New Castle, Kent and parts of Sussex County are also available.  Aerial photography is available for various years beginning with 1937 up to 2007.
    • Fees
      • Looks like it’s free.  They will check your credentials, though.
  • Florida
  • Georgia

#84 Shovelbums Guide Part 12.2: Hawai'i to Maryland

States that have digital site records, and states that don't.

The introduction to this post is in #82.

For quick reference states that have online searchable records are in bold and are underlined.

#83: Alabama to Georgia

#85: Massachusetts to New Jersey

#86: New Mexico to South Carolina

#87: South Dakota to Wyoming