The practice of using mobile survey applications (or a digital fieldwork assistant, dFA) has a tradition of more than a decade in the context of archaeological field survey. The OpenArchaeoSurvey project is aimed at improving such applications, building on recent developments in mobile technology.

The 'open' in our project stands for 'open source software', but also for allowing real-time data exchange and communication using the fieldwork application. In addition to the practical advantages, this creates the possibility for all participants to reflect on the collected data.

Please find an article on the project here Waagen et al, OpenArchaeoSurvey, or 'Being Educated by the Digital Fieldwork Assistant', forthcoming

The Plug-in

Technically, this comes down to a Python plug-in for QGIS, which currently runs solely under Linux (Debian 6).

The plug-in takes care of five main functions:

  • Displaying a GPS position of a connected GPS receiver
  • Providing real-time recording of survey data
  • Taking geo-tagged pictures
  • Up- and downloading data to and from a central server
  • Accessing a messenger (chat)


The current phase of the project is aimed at usability and accessibility; our ultimate goal is to enable non-techies to set-up the application for their own projects. We are focused at:

  • Have the plug-in working at QGIS for Android, opening up a vast range of devices
  • Make recording forms compliant with the Quasar Toolkit, enabling easy adjustment to project databases
  • Produce a virtual appliance that will help users to set up a preconfigured server
  • Create and host screencasts to guide users through the set-up of the application


Jitte Waagen (project direction, overall design)
Nils de Reus (main programmer)
Gert-Jan van Wijngaarden (scientific advice)
Joeri Wetters (graphical design)

For more information, please contact jwaagen@surveyarchaeology.eu


The OpenArchaeoSurvey project formerly bore the name Learning Sites, and was presented as such at the 2012 CAA in Southampton. However, to avoid confusion with an already existing American virtual heritage company called Learning Sites we changed our name. Hereby we state explicitly that there is not, nor has there been, any relationship between our OpenArchaeoSurvey project, formerly Learning Sites, and the Learning Sites company, Williamstown, USA.