Technology and Teaching at the Athienou Archaeological Project, Cyprus

Presenters: Jody Michael Gordon (Wentworth Institute of Technology), Kyo Koo (Davidson College), Derek Counts (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Erin Walcek Averett (Creighton University), and Michael Toumazou (Davidson College)

For the last 25 years, the Athienou Archaeological Project (AAP) has conducted pedestrian survey and excavations of domestic, religion, and funerary sites in the Malloura Valley on the island of Cyprus. From its inception, the project has made the training of undergraduate students a key element of its archaeological process and method. AAP thus enhances our understanding of inland Cyprus, while at the same time training a new generation of archaeologists. To enhance excavation, interpretation, and the field school, the project has recognized the utility of integrating emergent technologies into the excavation process and has acknowledged the importance of acquainting students with such technologies. Indeed, since 1990, AAP has participated in the transition from handwritten notebooks to born-digital, tablet-based recording. Therefore, AAP offers a unique perspective from which to observe the digital age’s influence on archaeology. Drawing on this experience, in 2011 AAP proved to be one of the first projects to embrace the “paperless” archaeology revolution that is quickly becoming standard in field archaeology.


This paper describes AAP’s transition to a born-digital, tablet-based, archaeological recording system and web-based, PHP-coded database, and how this experiment has influenced its data recording, site interpretation, and pedagogical methods. We discuss the benefits and drawbacks of system implementation, and demonstrate how born-digital data recording has provided immediate logistical and academic benefits that have positively influenced both research and teaching. Overall, by sharing our experience, we hope to engender comparisons with other projects implementing born-digital recording protocols and to contribute to best practices within the discourse of digital archaeology.