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Wednesday, March 28 • 2:00pm - 6:15pm
2 - Identifying and tracing archaeological material with RFID tags.

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In this paper we proposed to label archaeological material with RFID tags in order to identify them in an unambiguous way and trace the relevant information associated to it, through all the phases of the archaeological work from fieldwork to museum storage. The system has been specifically designed to integrate with the working procedures of the archaeological team that works in the Segeda project http://www.segeda.net. The RFID technology uses a wireless link to transfer data between a reader and a transponder by means of a modulated radio frequency carrier signal. Each of these transponders or tags contains a unique identification number that will unambiguously identify any element to which is attached. All the information related to this item will be saved in a database associated to this number. Any new information can be physically stored in the traced element inside the memory tag and data can also be retrieved at any point where a RFID reader is placed. This process of reading and writing information requires no contact or perfect alignment between tag and reader; so, just placing the tag inside the communication range, new information can be written or read in a fast and easy way. The RFID tag substitutes the paper tags used so far to identify the archaeological material. The level of RFID identification reproduces the level of identification used currently by the Segeda team. The proposed system allows the single item identification when complete elements are recovered, and group identification when several fragments are found together. The RFID tag is attached to the bag that contains one single piece or several fragments. The information collected in fieldwork: topographic information, identification of the excavation site or working dates, can be recorded in the memory of the tag by means of a handheld RFID reader and, simultaneously saved in a database. After laboratory work, the knowledge about the material increases. A code is provided and manually marked on the element. The RFID labelling doesn't imply eliminating this mark but the new information can be added to the tag or correct the already recorded at the same time the database is updated. When a set of fragments is recognized to belong to the same piece, a new tag is generated including part of the information from the fragments and the new number that identifies the piece. This technique improves the archaeological work in several aspects. First, speeds up the process of collecting, saving, updating and duplicating the data associated to every piece of material. Second, increases the information that can be stored with the material and can be retrieved without connection to the database. Third, avoid human error in transcribing information. Finally, RFID labelling facilitates the process of localizing stored material and controlling its movement. This global system has already been proved in the storage phase applied to reconstructed pieces and will be tested during the excavation works that will take place next summer at Segeda site.


Gloria Fernández

Universidad de Zaragoza_Departamento de Ciencias de la Antigüedad 1st milenium BC archaeology,

Ana María López

University of Zaragoza. Communications and Electronic Engineering Department Physics Signal Processing

Wednesday March 28, 2012 2:00pm - 6:15pm BST
Building 65, 1145 Streamed into room 1157

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