The KAP Recording System: Overview

The Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) uses a born-digital, paperless recording system. This means that both the recording of metadata (context numbers, descriptions, etc.) and the recording of text, image, and spatial data are done entirely digitally. We do not use paper forms, tape measures, plumb bobs, or other such types of typical archaeological equipment.

All project members should have at least basic familiarity with all aspects of digital recording and data storage at Kaymakçı; this will guide where to look for certain types of information, should it be needed, and should help in evaluating what kinds of error or imprecision might be inherent in certain kinds of data.

The Server #

The project server (currently named “kubaba”) is the centralized storage location for all project data. Do not store project data on personal devices, and do not copy large amounts of data or files from kubaba to personal devices. The server is organized into a somewhat complex file hierarchy; if you are new to the project, take some time to click through the folders to get a sense of where different kinds of information are stored. You may also find instructions on where to find different pieces of information in the FAQ. Each project member has permissions to edit certain parts of the server; if you think you need to edit files in a part of the server to which you don’t currently have access, see a supervisor or project leadership to either get permissions or have someone else make the edits for you. All software required for work at Kaymakçı and engagement with the KAP recording system are installed on the server.

The Database #

All data on excavation areas, contexts, and samples (among other categories) is stored in the project database. The main behind-the-scenes—or “back-end” database is a relational database running in PostgreSQL, meaning that the data is stored in a series of interrelated tables connected to unique “primary keys.” The most important primary key is the “context key” (see Terminology and Numbering). Project members can browse, query, add, modify, and retrieve data from the database using the “front-end” user interface forms and tables built in Microsoft Access, each of which is designed for a certain task or specialization. You should be intimately familiar with the MS Access forms that you use regularly and should have at least a basic familiarity with all the other forms used by the project; short introductions to these MS Access forms can be found in the Database category (beginning here) . This will help you know where to find a piece of information should you need it. It is also advantageous to understand the basics of database querying. Querying allows you to compile lists of all data in the database that meet certain criteria (for example, every context in an excavation area along with its context type, sub-type, and description; all samples excavated in a particular year with their bureaucratic status and current location; etc.). A short introductory guide to writing queries can be found here.

Spatial Data #

Spatial data at Kaymakçı is collected, processed, managed, and stored using a variety of digital devices and programs. The physical location of contexts and objects is recorded through a combination of photogrammetry and GNSS surveying. This produces a series of files that can be used by project members in a variety of ways, including the following: 3D models of the bottom of every context (see below) that can be viewed in Agisoft Metashape; 3D models of the volume of each context created in a custom Point Cloud Processor (PCPro) program; orthophotos that show a true-color image of the bottom of the context; digital elevation models (DEMs) that contain elevation data; and point files containing an easting, northing, and elevation coordinates. Most spatial data is managed on a day-to-day basis in QGIS, a powerful, open-source, and free Geographic Information System (GIS) software that is used to produce plans at the end of every day of excavation and at the end of every season, to create a cumulative record of everything that drawn for a particular excavation area over the course of its excavation, and to archive long-term spatial data. QGIS can be used to investigate spatial relationships through horizontal measurements, to generate elevations for any context excavated, and to produce maps for presentation, reports, and/or publication.

Evernote #

The notes that the excavators (and other project members) take are also created and stored digitally using Evernote. Evernote allows for notetaking by typing and writing with a stylus, as well as for adding and annotating photos. Notes can also be tagged so they are easily searchable and they are archived at the end of each season. Thereafter, notes can still be annotated with post-facto observations, interpretations, and/or corrections.

Equipment for Digital Recording #

Because the recording system is born-digital, the project has a number of devices available, besides the server itself, for data collection and processing. These include old project servers, a variety of PC laptops used for data entry and processing 3D models, tablets for field and lab work that connect to the server directly or via remote desktop, and digital cameras that also connect to the server directly for uploading photos manually or via custom built apps.

The KAP Network #

In order for this recording system to function, a constant connection to the server (if not the internet as a whole) is necessary. The project has therefore established an internal network (or “intranet”) that encompasses both the research center labs and the excavation site (Figure 1). Keep in mind that you need to be on this network in order to connect to the server and other project devices; the connection will not work the same way if you are working off-site or using data on a cell phone.

A schematic representation of the on-site network and its connections, from Roosevelt et al. 2015

Communication #

Thanks to the intranet, all project members should theoretically be connected digitally at all times. We can therefore utilize digital methods for communicating easily between the field and the lab, and between various groups and individuals. We use Google Chat as our primary for digital communication app. All project members should have access to Chat either through an app or through Gmail, and will be added to groups relevant to their specialties (e.g., Excavation, Zooarch, Conservation, etc.). Google Chat can be used to send photos as well as text, so it is useful for discussing interesting finds or features, especially between the field and the lab during active fieldwork.

It is also possible to send messages between accounts on the server. If you are logged onto the server, you can send messages to another connected user by opening the Task Manager, clicking on the Users tab, then, right clicking on the name of the person you wish to message.

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