HumanOS: an open source nomadic software database for physical anthropology and archaeology

Rozenn Colleter, Jean-Baptiste Romain, Jean-Baptiste Barreau

Abstract

With the democratization of computers, tablets and smartphones, the data acquisition and exploration on archaeological sites are changing significantly. The digitization of information allows a faster, more efficient and more standardized data recording that facilitates the synthesis work required by the discipline. Numerous database programmes are being developed in archaeology and physical anthropology, notably with targeted tools developed to meet specific needs. However, to the authors’ knowledge, no efficient, free and open-source program for the recording of human bones in an archaeological context exists yet. In this paper, a mobile application for the intuitive recording of human bones from archaeological sites is described; this app, defined for the field and biological anthropologists, allows making an inventory of the burials from site to the laboratory from archaeological digs in an intuitive style. In addition to the recording of the skeleton, the application permits the recording of the discovery context. The application also gives significant freedom to the user, who can easily create research fields to their own research objectives. Finally, it permits exporting the information, either as text (automatic report) and/or as tables for statistical use. It is a modular, ergonomic and portable tool which meets researchers' requirements without needing an internet connection; it stores the recorded information in several formats (CSV, SVG, HTML and/or JSON), in a sustainable computer language, permitting complementary modules development. The system is implemented in the form of a free and open-source web application, programmed in JavaScript (available from http://www.humanos.cnrs.fr/) and supplied in the form of a simple ZIP file to decompress. The application does not require any special installation, as it opens by clicking on the executable "HumanOS.html" with any web browser, even without an Internet connection.

Highlights:

  • We have developed a mobile application which allows "field anthropologists" to record burials inventories from archaeological excavations on site and in the laboratory, in an intuitive way.

  • In addition to recording the skeleton, the application makes it possible to note the context of the discovery and to create fields of investigation according to its own research objectives.

  • It allows data export in the form of text (automatic report) and/or tables for statistical uses.


Keywords

physical anthropology; database searching; archaeological site; interoperability; open-source software; software development

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