Archaeology Collections Cataloging Software

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    • #132609
      Wendi Murray


      We are looking into software options for cataloging our archaeological collections. I am familiar with ReDiscovery and Ke EMu, but can anyone recommend any other programs that are particularly well-suited to cataloging archaeological collections? I have heard that PastPerfect is not very flexible, and is therefore difficult to use for archaeological collections… does anyone have opinions about this that they can share? Any advice or insights on this topic would be much appreciated!

      Thanks, Wendi

    • #132618

      We have used Past Perfect with no real problems. We have a small archeological collection.

    • #132617
      Ella Rayburn

      You can go to their website,, download a free evaluation copy of Past Perfect 5.     In the center of the History catalog card is a radio button for “archeology.”  The card lists, among other data details, stratum, unit level, coordinates, so on.   The object names are based on intended use of the object regardless of archeology or history. I think PP5 would be the ticket for an archeo catalog.

      My historical society has 6000 catalog entries using Past Perfect 4. — no archeology, though.  I think archeo cataloging would have to be massaged in PP4 so maybe that is what you were hearing about.


    • #132616

      I used a customized version of MIMSY to upload over 40, 000 archaeological records onto a museum’s database once. The data was previously held in Excel so I created a custom view for the archaeological artifacts and uploaded the data fairly easily once all the back end work was complete. I foudn the software worked quite well for museum collections and archaeological collections alike.

    • #132615
      Brandy T.

      Have any of you who are making software recommendations done lot cataloging of archy collections with these databases? Or have you only used it for one-object-per record cataloging? Just curious…

      I haven’t been able to find a museum software that allows you to easily lot catalog; all seem formated for single-object record entries. We use a custom-made FileMaker Pro system right now, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are/have a database expert.

      I have only tinkered with PP, so I am far from an expert, but I don’t think it allows you to lot catalog. It has an archy format with acceptable archaeological data fields, but it still assumes that you’re cataloging one object at a time, which sometimes isn’t the case with archy collections. If I am wrong about this, or if anyone has a suggestion for me, please let me know. We’re still looking for a good system at our repository.

    • #132614
      Ella Rayburn

      Not sure what might be in your lots.  PP is the one I’m using (have used others).  PP allows very flexible catalog numbering, including adding alphas to the numerics.  It has an entry for item account.  Otherwise you would deal with the artifacts within the description field.  I think that would be standard cataloging methods.

    • #132613

      Brandy I too am interested in lot cataloging and more robust accessioning modules to deal with detail logging of large collections before we can do a per item cataloging.

    • #132612
      Tracy Miller

      I’ve done a lot of archaeology collections cataloging in Access. I like Access because you can enter a lot of data in the spreadsheet view for your tables.  Then, you can relate the tables to build customized queries.  You can also build an interface template if you prefer that for data entry, but the spreadsheet view makes it easy to use the copy down or paste functions for multiple entries. I prefer Access over FileMaker – it’s more intuitive, easier to navigate, and easier to perform basic functions such as copying data. (The agency I currently work for uses FileMaker because we are only allowed to use Mac computers, but there is not an Access version for Mac if that is what you use).

    • #132611
      Kaia Landon

      CollectiveAccess allows you to easily duplicate objects, as well as to mass update particular fields. So, if, for instance, we’re talking about 100 items, you would simply duplicate 100 times, search for those, and then update fields (the newest version is supposed to allow this in much the same way Excel does – we’re not on that version yet as it’s still technically in development). (Part of the reason we’re in the midst of moving from PastPerfect to CollectiveAccess is because I don’t like how PP deals with archaeological, geological, and paleontological specimens.)

      If all of your fields are the same, except, perhaps the object number and dimensions, it might be easiest (no matter what software you are using) to input the data in Excel where you can simply copy and paste as many lines you need, then adjust the fields that will be different, and then import that to your software of choice.

    • #132610

      Mimsy also allows for duplication and multiple alpha-numeric numbering. It is also a relational database that allows you to create site and excavator records that can then be linked to the artefact records. I found the customizable nature of Mimsy a big plus when developing a system of cataloguing the 20 archaeological sites (40,000+ artefacts).

      I’ve tried using PP for catalogiung archaeological records in the past and I agree with you, it isn’t very receptive to large lot.

      If you don’t have alot of money to spend on this database you may be better off looking to an Access or Excel format for now, as these are general very easy to migrate into more robust databases when needed.

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