3. The SASSA Field Tool

The field tool is designed to support field archaeologists in the description and basic interpretation of soils and sediments. It will operate on a range of platforms (PC, laptop, PDA, smartphone) either through an internet connection (fixed or wireless) or phone network, and all pages can be printed for paper-based recording if necessary. The aim is to provide non-specialist archaeologists with the field-based support necessary to describe their soils effectively, and to identify key archaeological questions where soil science techniques may be applicable.

Figure 10: Screenshot of the SASSA field tool registration page

Figure 11: Screenshot of the Field tool homepage

The field tool uses an XML database to record the user's site and soil data. Therefore, a separate registration and login from the rest of the SASSA site is required (Fig. 10). Registration with the field tool is completely free and is open to all. When new users log in, they are presented with the field tool home page (Fig. 11), which allows the choice of one of two options: the interpretation tool and the soil description tool.

The description tool provides a format and help with describing soils and sediments. SASSA does not aim to replace the context recording sheet, rather to complement it. The focus of the tool is on providing not only the information necessary for a user to record soils, but also the background on 'why' they may wish to record extra information and in what circumstances it may be beneficial to invest extra time and effort.

The interpretation tool is a decision-support system that walks the user through a series of questions to provide help with common field questions relating to soils and sediments. For example, 'Is this a buried soil?' or 'Has this deposit been affected by bioturbation (mixing by earthworms and other animals)?' Again, the emphasis is on enabling the user to develop an understanding of the soil rather than attempting to provide definitive answers to complex questions.

You may register and log in to try the field tool at
See sections 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 for more information on using the field tool or refer to the on-line help pages provided by SASSA.


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Last updated: Mon Dec 15 2008