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History of The Bonn Archaeological Software Package

The Bonn Archaeological Software (formerly Statistics) Package began as a collection of programs from many sources and epochs. Some of the programs were useful public domain utilities which were quite old or quite new. Several programs are still shareware, obtained from the authors under license to distribute them. If you use these, you should send money to the authors according to the documentation included with them to register and obtain the latest version.

But most of the programs were written at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany and have a history going back to the beginning of the 1970's even before the first computer was installed at that institution.

The development of a seriation and statistics package at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn has a long history. An IBM mainframe suite of programs in Fortran (Version 1) had been collected in the early 1970's at I. Scollar's lab, but never widely used because of its complexity. It had as a core the programs developed at Cambridge University by E. M. Wilkinson for his doctorate which was published in Bonn in 1974. Additions from mainframe packages developed at Bell Telephone Laboratories and Stanford Linear Accelerator were included. Ian Graham, now at U. Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand added simulation and clustering functions, and Pat Galloway, now at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson tested it using Graham's simulation program. The result was a publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science in 1976. It was distributed on 9 channel magnetic tape to a few hardy users, most of whom never looked at it after looking at the very sparse documentation!

A programming exercise for Scollar's students of prehistory at the University of Cologne was set up in 1980 to implement the algorithm for seriation proposed by Goldmann and Kammerer in 1968, but programmed in totally unportable IBM mainframe assembler by Wilkinson. The problem turned out to be too difficult for archaeologists, and it was decided to make it into a project for students of professional programming in training at the Landesmuseum, who came from many different countries under the auspices of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

This ultimately became Version 2, written in 'Swedish' Pascal, the first public domain Pascal compiler for the DEC PDP11/70 minicomputer which was installed in 1975 in the Landesmuseum.

With the introduction and widespread availability of the IBM PC, Version 2 was translated to Borland's Turbo Pascal 3.0 and widely distributed in 1988 as Version 3.

Version 4.1 was rewritten in Borland Turbo Pascal 5.5 for the IBM PC between 1989 and 1991.

Version 4.5 was a 'half-way house', partly in Turbo Pascal 5.5 and part in Object Turbo Pascal 6 for it was our intention to make a version with a modern graphic interface for all of the programs developed in Bonn. What the programs had in common were data formats which permit passing data from one to the next. What they didn't have in common was a uniform user interface. You saw interfaces with modern dialog boxes and mouse controls, but you also saw interfaces which were developed at the time of the 'glass teletype', i.e. the very first video terminals used on the earliest of minicomputers, and even a few remnants of the punched card oriented earliest Fortran version.

A complete revision has now been realized in version 5, Basp for Windows. It has been rewritten using a few of the algorithms and some of the data structures of the core code from the old versions in Borland Object Pascal 7 for Windows. The old ascii files for exchanging data between the programs are gone, although they can still be read and written, replaced by binary files which can't be 'fiddled' by cunning users resulting in horrible crashes.

Version 5.1 adds new features for automated cartography for analytical results using scanned maps. Version 5.2 adds several national coordinate systems and an improved method for dealing with small scale maps. Version 5.3 offers Voronoi polygon and Delaunay tessellation methods for spatial data.


Programmer participants (in alphabetical order, with affiliation at the time) in the project to date have been:

Caryn Barab              University of California, Los Angeles, USA 
Connie Bennett University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Beverly Claasen Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA
Boaz Golani Technion, Haifa, Israel
Henning Grassau Bonn University, Germany
Ian Graham University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Irmela Herzog Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany
David Prinsloo University of Witwatersrand, Johannisburg, South Africa
Joachim Rehmet Tübingen University, Germany
Irwin Scollar Rheinisches Landesumseum, Bonn, Germany (retired)


The resulting rather incompatible set of programs was first rewritten and revised by Irmela Herzog and the DAAD students under the guidance of Bernd Weidner, formerly Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, now director of Interactive Instruments GmbH, Bonn.

Henning Grassau converted Version 2.0 from DEC PDP11 Swedish Pascal to Borland's Turbo Pascal 3.0 for the IBM PC.

The shared near neighbor method and the earliest version of the simulation technique first implemented in the prehistoric IBM mainframe version 1 of the package back in the early 1970's by Ian Graham, now at Hamilton, New Zealand. Irmela Herzog ported it to the IBM PC and made many additions to both.

The simulation, social status, incidence analysis and shared near neighbor programs and their utilities were revised and reprogrammed by Irmela Herzog after she became a permanent staff member in Bonn.

Irwin Scollar programmed the new Version 4.5 user interface, the DOS help processor, the installation procedures, data conversion and translated Version 3 from Turbo Pascal 3.0 to Turbo Pascal 5.5, and version 4.1 from Turbo 5.5 to Turbo 6.0. The original undistributed versions of principal components and correspondence analysis were programmed by Irmela Herzog. These were extended by the addition of mouse supported color graphics and plotting facilities, inertia outlier detection and flagging, along with the mouse driven menu structures by Scollar, who also did the Bonn Shell in Version 4.5.

The porting of the DOS version to Windows 3.1 was done by Scollar as Version 5 in a complete rewrite of the entire package in Borland Object Pascal Version 7. All of the functions of the DOS package have been reprogrammed and a lot of new features have been added. The revisions for Version 5.1 and 5.2 which added support for scanned maps and national as well as international geographic coordinate systems were also done by Scollar. A Windows shell for the latest DOS version of Harris matrix analysis was also added.

Karel Segeth of the Czech Academy of Sciences supervised Petr Stupka and Tomas Jelinek of Prague University who translated C code written by Seth Teller of Princeton based on the code written by Steven Fortune of Bell Labes for Voronoi and Delaunay triangulation to Pascal for DOS. Scollar adapted this code for Windows for the 5.3 revision.

Michael J. Greenacre of the Department of Statistics, The University of South Africa, Pretoria, now of the Universita Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona advised on the newer statistical methods and contributed to the statistical theory section for versions 4.1 and 4.5.

John P. Snyder of the US Geological Survey offered much fundamental advice which was used in programming the conversions between various national and international grid systems in version 5.1 and 5.2.

Bo Gunnar Reit of the National Land Survey of Sweden contributed his extremely accurate Fortran program for the conversion of Gauss-Krueger coordinates which was rewritten in Pascal for all systems based on a GK model, as well as much advice and help in the construction of the many different coordinate conversion programs.

Joachim Rehmet of Tübingen University has played a vital role in the development of the package beginning with Version 4.5. For that version he wrote the excellent data entry programs Edit-p and Edit-a which replaced the antiquated user-unfriendly 'glass teletype' methods used in earlier versions. He was instrumental in the debugging and testing of all the new Windows versions and made innumerable suggestions for improvements so that these versions became what they now are in many ways because of his recommendations. He has conceived and maintained the very attractive Web pages which you may examine here.


The package would not be what it is without the unstinting patience of our voluntary testers over many years. In alphabetical order they are:

Morten Axboe                Nationalmuseet Copenhagen, Denmark 
Clive Bridger Rheinisches Amt f. Bodendenkmalpflege, Xanten, Germany
Werner Feist Naturhistorische Gesellschaft, Nürnberg, Germany
Pat Galloway Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackon MS, USA
Mark Gillings Insitute of Archaeology, Newcastle, England
Inger-Marie Holm-Olsen University Museum Tromsoe, Norway
Anke Koch Inst. f. Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Cologne, Germany
Jürg Leckebusch Inst. f. Ur- u. Frühgeschichte, Zürich, Switzerland
K. Lewartowski Institute of Archaeology, Warsaw, Poland
Kris Lockyear University of Southampton, England
Torsten Madsen Institut for forhistorisk Arkæologi Aarhus, Denmark
Anthony Martinez University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, USA
Allard Mees RGZM, Mainz, Germany
Martin Rundkvist University of Stockholm
Wolfram Schier Inst. f. Ur- u. Frühgeschichte, Frankfurt, Germany
Frank Siegmund Inst. f. Ur- u. Frühgeschichte, Göttingen, Germany
D.C. Steures Leiden, Netherlands
Michael Vallo Institut f. Amerikanistik, Bonn, Germany
Stephan Weiss Inst. f. Ur- u. Frühgeschichte, Cologne Germany
Hans Wotzka Inst. f. Ur- u. Frühgeschichte, Frankfurt, Germany

They tried all the myriad possibilities of the package to discover errors and their many useful suggestions for improvement are deeply appreciated.

Any user who wishes to join their ranks is cordially invited to write to us via e-mail. All testing is now done 'on-line'. Your reward: you will be immortalised here and you get the latest and future versions of the package without charge as long as you continue testing!

Testers must have an IBM compatible PC running Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows NT with a big hard disk. They should have a real problem with lots of data on which to work. They must also have an Internet connection in order to receive rapid updates and corrections with the ability to receive, store and download very large files. Notifications of beta revisions are sent via e-mail and files are transferred only via ftp.

Suggestions are welcomed along with criticism and ideas for additions to the package. Let's hear from you if you have a problem which cannot be treated by the methods offered, or if you know of a better way to do things.

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Last update: March 8, 1997