Ten essential mobile apps for the archaeologist

Submitted by Amanda L. Morrow

After reading the article posted earlier this summer about the release of the Digging Savannah app for Android systems, I began compiling a list of helpful apps for those involved with archaeology and history in Georgia. I am an iOS (Apple) user, so I can only vouch for those particular versions of the apps listed below. In those situations where an app is a platform exclusive, I have tried to find an equivalent app from the other side. Most of the apps listed below will work on either your Android or iOS device! Click your device below each app to go to the store.

Billion Graves (Free)
iOS Android
This app connects you to the powerful cemetery database of Billion Graves and allows you to upload headstone photos with embedded geographic information from anywhere. You can also use it to locate cemeteries near your current location and view records others have posted. You need an account with the website to use the app, but this is free to set up.

Georgia Historical Markers (Free)
This app shows you historical markers near your current location. When you select a marker, you find a photograph of it and a transcription of what it says. No more missed drive-bys! You can also get directions to and search for particular markers by keyword. It was developed by Georgia Southern University in partnership with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Mesh Lab (Free)
iOS Android
This fantastic app allows you to examine 3-D models of objects in complete rotation. Many museums are beginning to use 3-D models of artifacts in their interpretation. Some wonderful models of prehistoric artifacts that can be viewed in Mesh Lab are available for free downloaded from the University of Arkansas’s Virtual Hampson Museum.

PreSize Ruler (Free)
This useful little app allows for quick caliper measurements in a pinch. Place two devices end-to-end to double the measurement capacity. While this app is iOS only, there are several similar apps on the Android marketplace.

SoilWeb (Free)
iOS Android
The SoilWeb app references your current location agains USGS soil survey data to generate an average soil profile you can expect to encounter in an are. You can also click on the series name for a complete soil taxonomy.

Earthtones ($2.99)
While we’re on the subject of soils, Earthtones is a pocket-sized Munsell book for your iPhone. You can generate color names, RGB and CMYK color conversions for your Munsell data. Soil Color Chart for Android has similar functionality.

Jot Not Scanner Pro ($0.99)
This app turns your device into a pocket scanner. Photograph any paper with the app and select the corners and the app does the rest. It processes the image to look flat and straight with readable contrast. This is perfect for conducting documentary research or saving colleague’s business cards at conferences. You can also export your scans as high quality PDFs. The app Mobile Doc Scanner for Android has similar functionality.

Clinometer ($1.99/$0.99)
iOS Android
The Clinometer is a bubble level that also allows for precise slope measurements.

Theodolite ($3.99 currently on sale!)
Theodolite is an augmented reality overlay app that displays real time GPS, compass, azimuth, bearing, range, and inclination right over the camera input for your device. You can also save geotagged camera images directly from the app. There is also an optional add-in datum pack for an extra purchase which includes such widely used datums as NAD-27 and NAD-83.

Offline Topo Maps ($9.99)
This app allows you to bring USGS topo maps with you wherever you are, even if you are too remote to have a cell signal. You can also record GPS waypoints which can later be exported and brought into mapping programs like ESRI ArcGIS. The Android app Archaeology Sample Collector has some similar functionality.

Do you have any apps you use regularly in your work? Tell us in the comments below.