(Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, USA)
Keywords: Digital Archaeology, Archaeological Documentation, Archaeological Mapping
Although mapping and documentation are two of the most important processes in archaeology, the common paper techniques are inefficient. Paper documentation in general endangers data—paper is often difficult to preserve on an archaeological site, and handwritten documents by their nature prevent data replication. Additionally, the paper mapping process adds extra inefficiency to the archaeological process. Hand-drawing paper maps is extremely time-consuming, and the resulting maps are monochromatic and difficult for the human eye to interpret. Improving these techniques could revolutionize archaeology by revitalizing its most important processes, allowing projects to progress more quickly, and even facilitating interpretation—the purpose of excavation.
Mapp, an Android application, can make the mapping and documentation processes more efficient by solving these problems. The app stores data both on the user’s mobile device and on an online server from which it can be accessed by a desktop computer. This protects data by duplicating it and by storing it in a medium which is more durable than paper. Most beneficially, Mapp solves problems which plague traditional mapping techniques. Mapp allows a user to save a photograph of their unit in place of a traditional, hand-drawn map. This replaces the tedious mapping process with simply the click of a button. Although hand-drawn maps can contain more information than photographs, Mapp accounts for this shortcoming. In Mapp, a user can highlight on a map to save that selection to a key containing more information. Through these and other functionalities, Mapp can bring about a “paradigm shift” in archaeology (Jeremy Huggett, “Challenging Digital Archaeology,” Open Archaeology, 2015 , 79). It will not only save archaeologists time, but will also facilitate interpretation on a grander scale than has previously been feasible with traditional mapping and documentation techniques.