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Since 2011 the Sangro Valley Project (Italy) has employed a custom-built paperless recording system with iPads and FileMaker at its core. This paper summarizes the evolution of the project’s paperless system and presents lessons learned during five seasons of use (2011–2015) and during the author’s work with two other projects: the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia (Italy), and the Say Kah Archaeological Project (Belize). It identifies problems commonly encountered during the implementation of paperless systems and offers recommendations for avoiding or fixing them. Many of these problems are not unique to projects with digital recording systems, and most difficulties were not technical in nature. Rather, many of the most significant problems arose from integrating workflows. Digital recording systems can streamline fieldwork, improve the quality of data collected in the field, significantly reduce errors and misunderstandings, and facilitate new interpretive approaches, but they require thoughtful preparation and implementation.

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The Digital Press @ University of North Dakota


Grand Forks, North Dakota


archaeological recording, database, human-computer interaction, iPad, paperless archaeology, photography


Classical Archaeology and Art History

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

1.3. Sangro Valley and the Five (Paperless) Seasons: Lessons on Building Effective Digital Recording Workflows for Archaeological Fieldwork