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tDAR: A Cultural Heritage Archive for Twenty-First-Century Public Outreach, Research, and Resource Management


Abstract and Figures

Hundreds of thousands of archaeological investigations in the United States conducted over the last several decades have documented a large portion of the recovered archaeological record in the United States. However, if we are to use this enormous corpus to achieve richer understandings of the past, it is essential that both CRM and academic archaeologists change how they manage their digital documents and data over the course of a project and how this information is preserved for future use. We explore the nature and scope of the problem and describe how it can be addressed. In particular, we argue that project workflows must ensure that the documents and data are fully documented and deposited in a publicly accessible, digital repository where they can be discovered, accessed, and reused to enable new insights and build cumulative knowledge.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A Cultural Heritage Archive for Twenty-First-Century
Public Outreach, Research, and Resource Management
Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin
The use of digital equipment, methods, and tech-
niques for recording, describing, and analyzing data
has made it possible for archaeologists to take advan-
tage of new sources of data and research opportuni-
ties. Digital methods and techniques have increased
the amounts and intensity of eld and laboratory
data collection. However, few have confronted the
challenges of digital data access, reuse, and preser-
vation after data have been collected, described, and
Before the turn of the twenty-rst century, Hedstrom (1998)
described the challenges of digital data preservation faced by
libraries. Ten years ago, Kintigh (2006) summarized the situation
within archaeology. Waters (2007:8) described the increasing
availability and “greatly expanded ...scaleofhumanistic,social,
and scientic data for scholars to digest.” He paired the oppor-
Hundreds of thousands of archaeological investigations in the United States conducted over the last several decades have documented a
large portion of the recovered archaeological record in the United States. However, if we are to use this enormous corpus to achieve
richer understandings of the past, it is essential that both CRM and academic archaeologists change how they manage their digital
documents and data over the course of a project and how this information is preserved for future use. We explore the nature and scope
of the problem and describe how it can be addressed. In particular, we argue that project workflows must ensure that the documents and
data are fully documented and deposited in a publicly accessible, digital repository where they can be discovered, accessed, and reused
to enable new insights and build cumulative knowledge.
Cientos de miles de investigaciones arqueológicas en los Estados Unidos realizado en las últimas décadas han documentado una gran
parte del registro arqueológico recuperado en los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, si vamos a utilizar este enorme corpus para lograr
entendimientos más ricos del pasado, es esencial que CRM y los arqueólogos académicos cambian cómo administran sus documentos
digitales y los datos en el transcurso de un proyecto y cómo se conserva esta información para uso en el futuro. Exploramos la naturaleza
y el alcance del problema y describimos cómo se pueden abordarse. En particular, sostenemos que los flujos de trabajo de proyecto
deben asegurarse que los documentos y datos son totalmente documentados y depositados en un repositorio digital de acceso público,
donde puede ser descubiertos, acceder y reutilizados para activar nuevos conocimientos y construir conocimiento acumulativo.
tunities presented by digital data with a challenge that their use
creates, noting:
Individually and collectively, [scholars] must mobilize their
resources to create a dependable, deeply scaled, and
exible infrastructure to help faculty and students inter-
act with the electronic content in all the ways associated
with rigorous scholarship, including discovering evidence,
aggregating it, arranging and editing it for use, analyz-
ing and synthesizing it, and disseminating results through
reports and teaching.
Other recent articles (Hilton et al. 2013;Rumsey2016;Science
2011) describe the challenges and highlight the need to access
and preserve the vast amount of digital data produced by sci-
ence and humanities disciplines. Reviewing this topic broadly,
York and his colleagues (2016:3–4) warn of a “‘stewardship gap’
between the amount of valuable sponsored research data that is
produced, and the amount that is effectively stewarded.” Recog-
nizing the key roles of research and publication in the scientic
enterprise, Lord and his colleagues at the United Kingdom’s
Advances in Archaeological Practice 5(3), 2017, pp. 238–249
Copyright 2017 © Society for American Archaeology
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FIGURE 1. A model of integrated research, publication, and data curation processes (Lord et al. 2004).
Digital Curation Centre (2004) argue strongly for data curation
as a third key component in science and scholarship. Figure 1
illustrates the relationship of data curation to the well-recognized
“research” and “publication” processes and their interaction.
Digital data repositories are a central part of scientic inves-
tigations serving as sources of background research and new
hypotheses, as well as curation facilities in which newly gener-
ated research data are deposited at the end of an investigation.
Repositories are needed not just for data preservation, but to
ensure that data are easily discoverable, accessible, and usable
as sources for new research.
Altschul and Patterson (2010:297) estimated that as much as $1
billion is spent annually in the United States by public agencies
and private sector companies involved in cultural resource man-
agement (CRM). Although it is impossible to precisely quantify
the amount of data produced by these investigations, Altschul’s
(2016) analysis of reports by federal agencies for the years 1985
to 2012 (Departmental Consulting Archeologist 2009:23–42,
2010:40–74; National Park Service [NPS] Archeology Program
2016) shows that staggering amounts of archaeological data
have been collected. During this 27-year period, federal agencies
report 851,271 archaeological eld studies that surveyed more
than 140,000,000 acres and recorded more than 880,000 archaeo-
logical sites. Among these eld studies are 33,327 data recovery
projects—an average of more than 30,000 eld studies, including
over 1,000 excavations per year. These numbers are substan-
tial underestimates, since not all federal agencies reported or
fully reported their cultural heritage work, and no state or local
projects are included.
Of course, each of these 800,000-plus studies generates one or
more digital les (e.g., reports, photographs, and data sets) that
describe, analyze, or interpret the resources investigated. Even
if each eld study reported in Altschul’s incomplete inventory
produced only a single report, each site merited a single photo-
graph, and each excavation merited a report, a database, and
20 photographs, that would total more than 2,000,000 digital
les, with substantial amounts added annually. Sufce it to say
that we have a huge backlog of legacy data, and each year, an
enormous amount of new digital data are created, all of which
need to be managed to ensure access and preservation for future
use (Archaeology Data Service and Digital Antiquity [ADS and
DA] 2013:9–60, 2016; Clarke 2015:313–318, 324; Lord et al. 2004;
Rumsey 2016).
The real problem is not that a great deal of digital data is being
generated. The real problem is that most data resulting from
older and current investigations are difcult or impossible to dis-
cover, access, and use. Our discipline’s data most certainly suffer
from the data “stewardship gap” (York et al. 2016).
Of course, vast quantities of this digital data are never curated
and are lost when hard drives fail, servers are replaced, or inves-
tigators retire or die. If the digital documents, images, and data
sets from cultural heritage studies are curated at all, they are usu-
ally deposited with the artifacts and paper records in repositories
that focus on maintaining physical objects. Few artifact reposito-
ries deal effectively with digital data—either to provide access or
to ensure long-term preservation (Childs and Kinsey 2004; Childs
et al. 2010:196–197; Faniel and Yakel 2017:109; Watts 2011).
August 2017 Advances in Archaeological Practice A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology 239
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Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin
Typically, the media containing the digital data are simply num-
bered, boxed, and curated as physical objects. The data are not
accompanied by sufcient metadata for others to nd or use
them, nor are they easily discoverable or accessible online. They
are not checked for readability or migrated as new digital le
formats become standard.
The millions of digital les are not only the products of enormous
public investments in cultural heritage management; they consti-
tute a treasure trove of information. However, in order to exploit
this incredible potential, we must be able to discover the exis-
tence of relevant les, and we must be able to acquire them in
formats that contemporary software can use. In addition, digital
les must be accompanied by the information that makes them
discoverable, meaningful, and reusable (ADS and DA 2013:46–52,
2016;FanielandYakel2017:115–116; Faniel et al. 2013:297–303;
Kansaetal.2014;Kintigh2010; Kintigh et al. 2015:8–11; McMana-
mon 2014). If reports were searchable only by title or author,
relevant documents would often not be found. What use can be
made of a digital photograph labeled only with an automatically
generated image number? A data set with numeric codes for
pottery types is useless in the absence of a key explaining the
codes. For digital data to be discoverable and useful in future
research, they must be documented by and linked with rich con-
textual and descriptive metadata.
Most physical collections repositories lack the expertise, proce-
dures, and resources to systematically acquire, make accessible,
manage, and preserve digital les and associated metadata nec-
essary for data sharing and reuse. Disciplinary digital repositories
have emerged in archaeology and in other elds to ll these
gaps. They have the expertise to provide the stewardship the
data require in order to be exploited to advance knowledge.
This stewardship is even more important in archaeology, where
resources are nonrenewable and data often literally irreplaceable.
What must be done to transform the mass of existing data from
an unusable backlog into an actively accessed, rich, and usable
archive? What must be done to prevent adding annually to an
inaccessible and unusable backlog? Without effective interven-
tion, curation, and active stewardship, these data will soon be for-
gotten and unavailable for future uses. The investment in human
energy, intellectual focus, and funding will be lost. The data and
information, both those in the existing backlog and those created
by current investigations, must be deposited in a digital archive
where they can be discovered, accessed, preserved, and used.
Digital data repositories focused on archaeology and cultural
heritage, such as the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR; Dig-
ital Antiquity 2016) in the United States and the Archaeology
Data Service (ADS 2017) repository in the United Kingdom,
were established as responses to these problems. They consti-
tute established infrastructure that is necessary if we are to take
advantage of the wealth of data from past investigations and
integrate it with information being created now and in the future.
However, while this infrastructure is essential, so are changes in
archaeological practice that will ensure the regular and system-
atic movement of data into these repositories (ADS and DA 2013,
2016; Kintigh et al. 2015; McManamon 2014).
If this tremendous store of data was easily discoverable and
accessible, it could be used to streamline the historic preserva-
tion review process required for most public undertakings, to
create informative new educational materials, to provide critical
information for comparative and synthetic research addressing
important scientic questions, to support traditional cultural
practices, and generally contribute to the advancement of knowl-
The Center for Digital Antiquity (Digital Antiquity) is one of a
number of organizations that provide access to digital cultural
heritage data. Some focus on particular regions, types of sites, or
topics and aggregate relevant data and information in databases
that are Internet-accessible. Some, like Digital Antiquity and the
ADS in the United Kingdom, also provide long-term data cura-
tion and preservation, while others, such as the Chaco Research
Archive (CRA) and OpenContext, utilize archival services pro-
vided by existing institutional repositories at major research
An example of a project focused on providing access to data is
the CRA (Heitman et al. 2016), an online archive and database
that integrates much of the widely dispersed archaeological data
collected from Chaco Canyon from the late 1890s through the
rst half of the twentieth century. The CRA (CRA 2017)includes
thousands of images, data, reports, and other documents from
investigations of ancient sites, architecture, and artifacts related
to the ancient culture found in and near Chaco Canyon in the
U.S. Southwest. A topically oriented project focused on data
sharing is the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slav-
ery (DAACS). DAACS (2016) is designed for intersite comparative
studies focused on slavery and the lives of enslaved people in the
United States and the Caribbean. Both DAACS and CRA focus
on providing easy access to and fostering research on particu-
lar kinds of archaeological and cultural heritage resources and
OpenContext focuses on publishing archaeological data sets,
making them more accessible and advocating for greater pro-
fessional attention to data archiving and publication (Atici et al.
2013; Kansa et al. 2014). Managed and supported by the Alexan-
dria Archive Institute (AAI), OpenContext is “an open access,
web-based publication system for archaeology and other eld
sciences” (AAI 2017). At present, OpenContext lists data from
98 projects—some complete, others in various states of editing.
Unlike the CRA and DAACS, OpenContext does not concentrate
on one area or topic. Projects in Open Context show a concen-
tration in the Middle East, but a number are in Europe and the
Americas. OpenContext concentrates its publication on data
sets, in particular archaeofaunal data. In a series of recent arti-
cles, OpenContext leaders Eric C. Kansa and Sarah Whitcher
Kansa and colleagues describe research involving reanalysis of
archaeofaunal data sets created by different researchers and
research projects (e.g., Arbuckle et al. 2014; Atici et al. 2013;
Kansa and Kansa 2013). The method for data publication advo-
cated by OpenContext is for data sets submitted by researchers
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to be reviewed and modied as necessary for structural coher-
ence, consistency, and general and domain-specic quality by
OpenContext editors before they are published (Atici et al.
2013:675–677). Once published, the OpenContext data sets
are archived with the California Digital Library. Digital Antiq-
uity and the AAI are sharing links between archaeological site
data common in both the Digital Index of North American
Archaeology (DINAA) project in OpenContext and tDAR
Institutionally focused data repositories are available for faculty,
research staff, and students at a number of major research univer-
sities, such as the University of California system, the University
of Michigan, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and
the University of North Carolina. These “institutional reposito-
ries” focus on archiving research data created by their faculty,
research staff, and students (Johnson 2002;Lynch2003). While
they may provide access to the archived data, the breadth and
ease of access may be limited by the extent to which the data
are exposed to external search engines and any institutional lim-
itations placed on access to the data. Lynch (2017) has raised
a number of concerns regarding institutional repositories. He
notes that faculty use of such repositories is spotty and that as
universities come to realize the staff and technological commit-
ment required to run a dedicated, high-quality digital repository,
smaller institutions may nd the administrative and nancial com-
mitment too great (Lynch 2017:126–127). For individuals, CRM
rms, and other organizations outside of universities, there may
be no way that they can typically deposit the digital products
of their contracts or other research in institutional repositories.
It also may be difcult for external users to nd relevant data in
institutional repositories, because the diversity of research data
created by the wide range of disciplines encompassed by major
research universities makes it impossible to supply the level of
metadata detail needed for outside scholars to nd and access
the data (Ember et al. 2013:5).
Domain repositories provide digital data access, curation, and
preservation designed to serve specic scientic and scholarly
communities (Cambridge Concord Associates 2013; Ember et
al. 2013). They are particularly valuable because they combine
“domain-specic scientic knowledge, expertise in data steward-
ship, and close relationships with scientic communities” (Ember
et al. 2013:2). Digital Antiquity’s tDAR repository is an example, as
is the Archaeology Data Service’s repository in the United King-
dom (Archaeology Data Service 2017;Richards2017). Both tDAR
and the ADS repository focus on providing access to archaeolog-
ical data and its reuse, as well as actively curating data for their
long-term preservation.
In the last years of the twentieth century, the difculty of access-
ing and integrating information from multiple archaeological
projects was a major obstacle to the synthetic research being
pursued by a group of Arizona State University (ASU) researchers.
This ASU team of archaeologists, computer scientists, and digital
librarians initiated an effort to develop general-purpose com-
putational tools for synthesizing data sets recorded by multiple
investigators using different coding conventions data sets. Their
early efforts resulted in a National Science Foundation (NSF)–
funded workshop in 2004. The 31 workshop participants, drawn
from archaeology and computer science and representing a vari-
ety of universities and public agencies, developed recommenda-
tions concerning archaeology’s need for information infrastruc-
ture (Kintigh 2006). The report’s recommendations were endorsed
by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for
Historical Archaeology, and the American Association of Phys-
ical Anthropologists. Based on these recommendations, NSF
funded development of a prototype information infrastructure
(from which tDAR ultimately developed) to facilitate synthetic and
comparative research.
This work to articulate and address discipline-wide concern
caught the eye of program ofcers at the Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation. The Mellon Foundation has supported projects
involving archaeological data, including the CRA (2017; Heitman
et al. 2016), the DAACS (2016), and scanning of records and notes
of decades of excavations at the Athenian Agora and Ancient
Corinth (American School for Classical Studies in Athens 2016). In
2006, the foundation’s Scholarly Communications program con-
vened a multi-institutional group of archaeologists to consider
the feasibility of a large-scale digital repository for archaeologi-
cal data. The scope of the repository was to be comprehensive,
not limited to a single site, time period, culture, or region of
the world. Keith Kintigh (ASU), Tim Kohler (Washington State
University), Fred Limp (University of Arkansas), and Dean Snow
(Pennsylvania State University) were among the participants. In
2007, the Mellon Foundation funded a planning grant to develop
a proposal for a self-sufcient, disciplinary, digital repository and
an organization with a structure and business model that could
support it. Jeff Altschul (SRI Foundation), John Howard (ASU
Associate University Librarian), and Julian Richards (ADS and
University of York) joined those listed above as coauthors of the
The following year, Mellon Foundation funded the implemen-
tation proposal submitted by ASU, with Kintigh as the lead
principal investigator, in partnership with co-PIs from the addi-
tional institutions involved in the original planning. The Mellon
grant supported the establishment of Digital Antiquity at ASU to
oversee the development of tDAR and manage it as a domain
repository for archaeology and cultural heritage. The grant pro-
vided initial support to hire staff with the administrative, archae-
ological, informatics, and programming expertise necessary to
transform the NSF-funded prototype into a usable, publically
available, global digital repository.
The tDAR Repository
Since its initial development as an experimental tool for data
integration, tDAR has grown into a full-edged digital repository
for storing, discovering, accessing, and using archaeological and
cultural heritage documents, images, data sets, and other digital
materials. This development effort started by identifying basic
design requirements for the repository, developing the software
to meet those requirements, and then rening the application
to improve and simplify the user experience. Cognizant of the
enormous scale of the backlog and the large annual ow of data,
August 2017 Advances in Archaeological Practice A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology 241
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Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin
the application was designed, from the beginning, to allow users
to contribute data directly—without staff intervention—through
easy-to-use forms for uploading and managing a user’s materials
and logical workows. Additional features assist in the manage-
ment of the repository, including tools such as “collections” and
“projects” that allow for the organization, management, and dis-
play of groups of records. In 2010, tDAR became an operational
repository with advanced tools to further archaeological and
cultural heritage data management and research.
The tDAR code is open-source and licensed under the Apache
2.0 license. Where possible, the tDAR development team lever-
ages existing standards and conventions in development,
employing common formats and tools above inventing new ones.
Digital Antiquity is working to ensure that tDAR complies with
the full OAIS standard (CCSDA 2012). The repository is a J2EE
application written using the Hibernate, Spring, Struts2, JQuery,
and Bootstrap open-source libraries to assist in the development
of basic infrastructure components. To ensure application quality,
the tDAR development environment contains over 1,100 tests
that must be passed before a new release is deployed. Wherever
feasible, the application is designed to be as modular as possible
to enable components to be replaced as more modern ones are
Digital Antiquity has a professional staff, including an executive
director, director of technology, archaeologist/project managers,
digital curators, administrative support, and programmers who
develop and maintain tDAR’s code, features, user interface, cura-
tion workows, and content. Digital Antiquity is overseen by an
independent Board of Directors, which includes the archaeolo-
gists who were involved in the earlier planning, as well as experts
in digital libraries, nance, law, and nonprot organization man-
agement. The organization’s mission is to extend knowledge of
the human past and improve the management of cultural her-
itage by permanently preserving digital archaeological data and
supporting their discovery, access, and reuse. Digital Antiquity
further seeks to transform the practice of archaeology such that
the digital data, reports, images, and records, accompanied by
appropriate metadata, are routinely discoverable, accessible,
used, and preserved.
The immediate operational objectives of Digital Antiquity are
to (1) provide long-term preservation and access to the docu-
ments and data in tDAR; (2) expand the user-contributed content
in tDAR and enlarge the community of tDAR users; (3) build a
consistent, regular revenue stream sufcient to sustain the cen-
ter and repository nancially; (4) enhance the experience and
research capabilities for tDAR users through a robust and scal-
able technical foundation; and (5) ensure that the administrative
and organizational framework provides a strong foundation for
growth and sustainability. As expressed in the organization’s
mission and objectives, commitment to improvements in pro-
fessional practice regarding data management and digital cura-
tion means that Digital Antiquity and associated experts invest
considerable time in promoting best practices. Professional
publications and particularly presentations and workshops are
among the activities undertaken (e.g., Ellison 2017; Ellison and
Brin 2015; Ellison et al. 2016;Kintigh2010; McManamon 2014,
2017; McManamon and Flores 2016; McManamon and Kintigh
2010a; McManamon and Richards 2015,2016; McManamon et al.
Funding and Sustaining Digital Antiquity and
Adequate funding to support a digital repository is, of course,
crucial. This is a challenge for archives and data repositories in
many elds. Digital Antiquity’s business plan is informed by the
growing body of research on sustaining a digital repository (e.g.,
Guthrie et al. 2008;Maron2014; Maron et al. 2009). In particu-
lar, surveys of existing institutions show that a diverse strategy,
securing revenue by providing a range of services and/or from a
number of different sources is common and may be a necessity
for nancial adaptation (Erway 2012; Erway and Rinehart 2016).
Potential sources listed by Maron and colleagues (2009:21–26)
include subscriptions, licensing to publishers and users, custom
services and consulting, corporate sponsorships and advertising,
deposit/upload fees, endowments, grants, and other sources of
donated funds.
The Digital Antiquity business model identies four revenue
streams: full-service digital curation; self-service curation; grants;
and institutional funds and services. Since Digital Antiquity was
created in 2009, most new revenue has come from full-service
curation for public agencies that use tDAR to preserve and make
their data accessible because they do not have the expertise or
staff to do so on their own. Full-service digital curation is charged
on an hourly basis for staff time, plus per-le upload fees. As part
of full-service projects, Digital Antiquity staff provide the data
management and digital curation consultation and carry out
related activities for clients. The activities may involve organizing
data and les, technical checking of le formats and integrity,
le uploads, metadata drafting and editing, and, in some cases,
specialized data management or digital curation programing.
We dene self-service digital curation as metadata record cre-
ation and le upload to tDAR by data contributors without any
intervention by Digital Antiquity staff. The tDAR website, which
provides a set of metadata record templates and instructions for
uploading les, enables this direct, “do-it-yourself” digital cura-
tion. Once the metadata records are created and les uploaded,
it also is easy for the depositor to manage data. Self-service cura-
tion has the greatest potential for long-term revenue growth,
as more contributors upload their own data. Digital Antiquity
charges $10 per le (up to 10 MB) for individual les. The charge
is discounted to $5 per le for purchase of 100 or more les.
Grants, notably from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NSF,
and, very recently, the National Endowment for the Humani-
ties, directly support tDAR software development and Digital
Antiquity operations. Institutional support includes funding and
services provided to Digital Antiquity by ASU and the SAA in
support of its general operations, not specic project activities.
Digital Antiquity provides digital curation services to individual
researchers and organizations that require a repository where
they can manage access to and preservation and use of their
data. Data in tDAR have been contributed by over 350 individuals
and organizations, afliated with a wide range of colleges and
universities, private sector consulting rms, and public agencies;
for example, the University of Washington, Washington State
University, the University of Arkansas, the Pennsylvania State
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University, Harvard University, Brockington Associates, Statistical
Research Inc., the PaleoResearch Institute, the New York State
Museum, the North Carolina State Archaeologist’s Ofce, the
Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
the U.S. Air Force Environmental Center, and some units of the
Data are deposited in tDAR for many reasons. Agencies, orga-
nizations, and individuals use the repository and services pro-
vided by Digital Antiquity to manage documents and data for
which they are responsible, including substantial amounts of
gray literature and data not destined to appear in traditional
scholarly publications. Some contributors deposit data to meet
their professional and ethical obligations, or grant or permit
requirements for open access to documents or research data.
Some tDAR depositors create collections of data to share among
their research team members who are located at different institu-
Depositing Data in tDAR
Depositing data in tDAR enables easy discovery and access and
secures the long-term preservation of diverse forms and formats
of digital archaeological data, including the most common digital
formats for documents, data sets, geospatial data, and 2D and
3D images. It equally serves both newly generated and legacy
data. Templates available on the website (Digital Antiquity 2017)
guide data contributors through a comprehensive process of
metadata entry and le upload.
Digital les deposited in tDAR can be documented thoroughly
by administrative and technical metadata for preservation,
descriptive metadata for effective resource discovery, and
detailed semantic metadata needed to permit sensible scien-
tic reuse of the data. tDAR’s metadata includes general and
bibliographic components incorporating Dublin Core and the
Library of Congress’s MODS metadata standard. The technical
metadata meets the Library of Congress’s PREMIS metadata stan-
dard for capturing technical, preservation, and rights information.
tDAR includes metadata elds tailored for archaeology such as
site numbers, feature types, cultural terms, period names, and
investigation types. For data sets, metadata includes detailed
information documenting data sets tables, columns, and nominal
values. Detailed guidance regarding the creation of tDAR meta-
data records and uploading of data are available in the tDAR
“Help and Tutorials” web pages (Digital Antiquity 2017).
Digital Object Identiers (DOIs) and persistent URLs are assigned
automatically to all records. These unique designations provide a
permanent means of citing and locating the records. tDAR meta-
data enables explicit crediting not only of authors or creators of
les but also records credit for a variety of other individual and
institutional roles, from laboratory analyst to funding agency to
Access to tDAR content is provided through a web interface with
basic and advanced (including spatial) search capabilities. Con-
tent is indexed by Google and other major search engines. Apart
from legally protected condential data and data temporarily
embargoed by their contributors, all data are freely available over
the web to registered tDAR users. Metadata records are publi-
cally available without registration. Legally protected site loca-
tions are obfuscated in tDAR’s geographical search and display.
Data that are not designated as “condential” or “embargoed”
by their depositor may be reused, redistributed, or transformed,
subject only to the provision of appropriate credit to the author(s)
or data creator(s), proper citation, and indication of any changes
made (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License). All
data downloads include suggested citation information. tDAR’s
unique data integration tools advance scholars’ capacities for
comparative and synthetic research (e.g., Spielmann and Kintigh
tDAR Content and Uses
Content grows daily in tDAR. As of December 2016, tDAR
includes more than 383,000 records of archaeological reports
and other documents (over 9,800 of these include a digital full-
text le), 20,000 images, 1,100 data sets, 450 geospatial data sets,
150 landscape (lidar) or 3D object scan les (Figure 2). Data con-
tributors have created over 900 “projects” in tDAR to organize
their data and for the ease of data entry that this option provides.
Over 2,000 “collections” have been created by data contributors
to organize their data administratively or functionally.
Most of the data in tDAR are from North America. However, the
scope of the repository is international, spanning the archaeolog-
ical and historical records of all continents (Figure 3). In addition
to U.S.-based organizations, others located outside of the United
States are using tDAR for their digital data management needs.
In 2016, Digital Antiquity agreed to serve as the repository for
the Field Acquired Information Management Systems Project
(FAIMS) of Australia (FAIMS 2017). Digital Antiquity also estab-
lished an agreement with the Museum of Ontario Archaeology
and the University of Western Ontario to explore how their Sus-
tainable Archaeology Program can use tDAR as a repository for
access to and preservation of digital information related to its
physical collections.
Contributors of data to tDAR use their content to preserve, make
available, and otherwise manage access and use of their infor-
mation. Professional colleagues report that they use tDAR data
for various types of background research. Data depositors add to
and use tDAR content for research on a number of topics, includ-
ing research related to change over time in ancient economies
in the U.S. Southwest and Midwest (Neusius 2017; Spielmann
and Kintigh 2011). Broadly useful data being uploaded include
32,863 well-documented tree-ring dates and related metadata
from across the Southwest, the largest and most comprehensive
database of its kind to date (Kohler and Bocinsky 2015).
From nonspecialists, we receive e-mail messages about
using tDAR for research on family and local histories, locating
researchers whose work is represented in the archive’s records,
and locating copies of documents for which tDAR has only
citation-level data. In 2016, monthly page views of content have
typically ranged between 50,000 and 70,000. Since 2014, con-
tent downloads consistently have exceeded 1,000 per month.
Most content seekers discover tDAR records via simple Internet
search engine queries, although the website provides much more
sophisticated search capabilities.
Physical artifact curation facilities use tDAR as a “digital annex”
for their collections-associated digital les. Digital Antiquity
August 2017 Advances in Archaeological Practice A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology 243
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Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin
FIGURE 2. Cumulative growth of tDAR contents by year (2009 through end of 2016).
FIGURE 3. Schematic view of global contents of tDAR showing some examples.
worked with the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Labo-
ratory and Fort Lee Regional Repository to establish an archive
in tDAR for digital les from 17 military facilities for which these
two repositories curate physical collections and associated paper
records (Coeld and Eyre 2014; Department of Defense Legacy
Program 2014).
Publishers use tDAR to provide access to data that supplements
their publications or to distribute technical reports (notably
ones that are out of print). The University of Pennsylvania Uni-
versity Museum Press collection (University of Pennsylvania
Museum 2017) provides access to 46 data sets, 75 documents,
and over 100 images as data supplemental to their academic
publications. Statistical Research Inc., a large CRM rm, provides
access to its SRI Press Technical Reports series through tDAR
(SRI Press 2017). The NPS Midwest Archeological Center (2017)
provides access to its various report series through tDAR, as
Advances in Archaeological Practice A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology August 2017
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Research programs use tDAR so that collaborators at different
institutions have access to the same data (e.g., Kuril Biocomplex-
ity Research 2017; North Atlantic Ecodynamics 2017). A long-
lived research program that is using the archive is the Mimbres
Ceramic Database (2017; see also Hegmon et al. 2017:139). Orga-
nized by Steven LeBlanc (Harvard) and Michelle Hegmon (ASU),
this collection contains over 10,500 images from Mimbres vessels.
Part of the collection is accessible to registered users; access to
a fuller database requires review and approval by Hegmon. tDAR
allows data contributors to permit general public access to part
of their collection but also provides for control of broader access
to vetted researchers. Public agencies use tDAR to share data
among different contractors working on particular programs.
One example of this is the Bureau of Land Management’s Per-
mian Basin Program (2017), which shares some of its reports (in
redacted form) with the general public and limits access to full
reports to CRM rms and researchers working with their program.
Digital Antiquity provides a variety of data management and dig-
ital curation services. Among the most common are self-service
digital curation, in which contributors directly deposit data in
tDAR without intervention by Digital Antiquity staff, and full-
service digital curation, in which Digital Antiquity staff provide the
organization, le check and upload, and metadata drafting and
editing for clients. The following are a few examples from among
the work Digital Antiquity has done or that is underway.
Self-Service Curation
The Eastern Mimbres Archaeological Project (EMAP) uses self-
service curation. EMAP is an extensive and long-term investi-
gation of the post-AD 1000 history of the eastern Mimbres area
in southwest New Mexico that is codirected by Drs. Margaret
Nelson and Michelle Hegmon. The tDAR collection of data from
EMAP began in 2012 (Nelson and Hegmon 2016). Included in
this collection are excavation records and reports for the sites
studied, analysis tables and data sets, dating results, eld notes
and maps, photographs, and reports. Most of the EMAP data
and information are publically accessible. This includes about 300
reports, articles, or other documents; about 80 images; and 20
data sets. Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students working
for EMAP are familiar with the tDAR data upload and metadata
creation templates by using them on a regular basis. With a little
experience, they easily create project records and upload les to
the repository. The project principals and afliated researchers
access and manage the records without any direct intervention
from Digital Antiquity.
A second example of self-service digital curation is the large col-
lection of research reports (3,298 documents so far) being built
by Dr. Linda Scott Cummings of the PaleoResearch Institute and
her staff (Cummings 2016). This collection was set up in 2012.
Most of the reports are publically accessible, although a few of
the PaleoResearch clients have requested that their reports be
held as condential and only made available following review
of the request for access by Dr. Cummings or the clients them-
selves, a procedure that is easily conducted for les designated
by contributors as “condential” in tDAR.
Full-Service Curation
Beginning in 2011, Digital Antiquity undertook full-service cura-
tion work for the CRM program of the Phoenix Area Ofce
(PXAO) of the Bureau of Reclamation (Digital Antiquity 2013).
The PXAO is responsible for extensive cultural resource data
and records collected and created since the 1970s as part of
large investigations carried out on the canal reaches, lands, and
reservoirs constructed and managed by the agency in central
and southern Arizona. These paper reports, other documents,
images, and related data occupied considerable space in PXAO
ofces, and specic contents of this paper archive were dif-
cult to locate, search, use, and share among staff, contractors,
researchers, and the interested public. PXAO faced three prob-
lems in managing the information for which it is responsible: (1)
how to make the large amount of legacy data useful internally
and externally, (2) how to ensure its long-term preservation eco-
nomically, and (3) how to treat new data in a way that could make
it immediately useful within a system that would ensure its preser-
The PXAO had already digitized many of the paper records
related to its older archaeological projects, in particular from
various parts of the Central Arizona Project. Together, Digital
Antiquity and PXAO staff created a simple full-service workow
to manage the deposit of records into tDAR. Digital Antiquity
staff checked the digital documents for completeness and appro-
priate formatting and passed the PDF les through an optical
character reader (OCR) program so that they could be easily
searched. Digital Antiquity’s curators reviewed the texts and illus-
trations to identify sensitive information that might need to be
redacted or designated as “condential.” When encountered,
a redacted version of the report, which could be made public,
was created with the sensitive information (mainly detailed site
location) removed using Adobe Acrobat Pro’s redaction tools.
The full report, marked as “condential” in tDAR, is accessible
to users authorized by PXAO. Digital curators created appro-
priate descriptive and administrative metadata for each PXAO
le record, then uploaded it to tDAR as “draft” for the PXAO
to review. Staff also organized the PXAO digital archive so that
documents, images, and data sets could be retrieved easily for
administrative, educational, management, or research purposes.
Once the PXAO CRM ofce staff reviewed and approved the
tDAR metadata records, curators changed the records’ status to
“active,” making the metadata public and the les, if they are not
marked “condential,” freely accessible to users.
Outreach to professionals and the general public became possi-
ble when the collections and records were made public (Bureau
of Reclamation 2016). A recent example involved the PXAO
Theodore Roosevelt Dam Archaeological Project (2017), includ-
ing detailed technical site reports, synthesis volumes, shorter
descriptive articles, and data sets from the Bureau’s multiyear set
of investigations in the Tonto Basin of central Arizona (McMana-
mon and Kintigh 2016).
Digital Antiquity curators also provided assistance and training
to the three “on-call” PXAO contractors who deposit informa-
tion from new PXAO cultural resource projects through tDAR’s
self-service website interface. Requiring contractors to enter the
data, and placing the requirement in the on-call contract, the
PXAO is able to avoid growth in a backlog of data not properly
August 2017 Advances in Archaeological Practice A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology 245
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Francis P. McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin
curated. This workow is an effective and economical and should
be adopted widely.
The research value of and critical need for effective digital archiv-
ing for archaeological and related data and information is high-
lighted in the concluding paragraph in a recent article in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences addressing
Grand Challenges for Archaeology:
Although new archaeological eld work will be needed,
the greatest payoff will derive from exploiting the explo-
sion in systematically collected archaeological data
that has occurred since the mid-20th century, largely in
response to laws protecting archaeological resources.
Both the needed modeling and synthetic research will
require far more comprehensive online access to thor-
oughly documented research data and to unpublished
reports detailing the contextual information essential for
the comparative analyses. Indeed, our survey emphatically
reinforced the need for the kinds of online access provided
by the Digital Archaeological Record (United States) and
the Archaeology Data Service (United Kingdom) [Kintigh
et al. 2014a:879, 2014b].
Recognizing that archaeological resources are nonrenewable,
SAA’s statement of ethical principles include “Principle No. 7:
Records and Preservation: Archaeologists should work actively for
the preservation of, and long-term access to, archaeological col-
lections, records, and reports” (Society for American Archaeology
1996; see also Kintigh 2006:571–572; McManamon and Kintigh
Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC (CHP), a DC-based law rm,
conducted a legal analysis of the requirements for curation of
digital archaeological and cultural heritage data based on the
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Archaeologi-
cal Resources Protection Act (ARPA), and regulations (36 CFR
1220.1–1220.20) promulgated by the National Archives and
Records Administration (NARA). Their report concludes that
“relevant federal laws, regulations, and policies mandate that
digital archaeological data generated by federal agencies must
be deposited in an appropriate repository with the capability of
providing long-term digital curation and accessibility to qualied
users” (CHP 2012:10). Public agencies responsible for the care of
archaeological and cultural heritage resources and related data,
whether they have direct resource management or grant-related
responsibilities, must enforce these requirements to ensure long-
term preservation of and access to digital data. Consequences
of the absence of enforcement include the loss of data, less
informed and effective research, poorer resource management,
and the squandering of scarce public funding.
Maintaining digital data documenting cultural heritage in a
robust repository provides important benets for a broad com-
munity of archaeologists, cultural heritage specialists, librarians,
ecologists, historians, historical architects, economists, climate
scientists, and other researchers who need the unique long-term
data that only archaeology can provide. Members of the general
public likewise value archaeological information as a means of
learning about the ancient or historical past.
Despite compelling research demands, ethical obligations, fed-
eral regulations, NSF and NEH requirements for data manage-
ment plans, government calls for open access (e.g., Ofce of
Science and Technology Policy 2014; White House 2013), and
evident benets to a number of constituencies, appropriate stew-
ardship of archaeological data is far from commonplace. The
discipline must embrace project workows and practices that
ensure both newly created and legacy documents and data are
fully documented and deposited in a publicly accessible digital
repository where they can be discovered, accessed, and reused
to enable new insights and build cumulative knowledge. Grant-
ing, regulatory, and resource management agencies must ensure
that research products of their actions are deposited in public
repositories that provide for data discovery, access, reuse, and
preservation. Federal, state, tribal, and local agencies sponsor-
ing or permitting archaeological investigations must require the
deposit of data from these investigations in such repositories
as a part of the each project’s scope of work. All archaeologists
share an obligation for effective stewardship of these irreplace-
able data. The public and the profession all benet when that
obligation is met.
This material is based upon work supported by the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation, Scholarly Communications Program, by the
National Science Foundation under grant numbers 0433959,
0624341, and 1202413, and by a joint award, number PX 50022
09, from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the
Joint Information Systems Committee (United Kingdom). No
permits were required for the research done as part of this arti-
cle. The authors thank Rachel Fernandez, Digital Antiquity, for
her assistance with the Spanish translation of the abstract. The
authors appreciate the detailed comments we have received
from the outside experts who reviewed the manuscript. We also
appreciate very much the trust placed in Digital Antiquity by our
clients. We work diligently and steadily with a focused mission to
keep their data safe and manage how it is accessed according to
their directions.
Data Availability Statement
Examples of data and collections of data referred to in the
text are available in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record; In most or all cases, the specic links to data col-
lections referred to in the text are included in the References
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... Applying CTA to archaeological texts is much less common, but it has recently been used to analyze archaeological publications (e.g., Park et al. 2020;Schmidt and Marwick 2020). Finally, OCR is often used as a digitizing tool by archaeologists (e.g., Heath et al. 2019;McManamon et al. 2017) and is also common in the digital humanities, along with text extraction (Damerow et al. 2017;Pintus et al. 2015). These spatial and textual analysis methods have been combined in archaeological research through what Murrieta-Flores and Gregory (2015) refer to as Geographic Text Analysis (GTA). ...
... However, the software I outline in this article is not meant to address issues of findability and accessibility. Digital curation and publishing tools such as tDAR, ADS, and Open Context must be employed to these ends (McManamon et al. 2017 ...
... Centuries of archaeological excavations have created a large body of paper records that remain valuable to the discipline (Jeffrey et al. 2009). The Gulkana site is just one example of this broader disciplinary issue, referred to as the "legacy data backlog" (Altschul et al. 2017;Kansa and Kansa 2018;McManamon et al. 2017;Nicholson et al. 2021;Wollwage et al. 2020). Therefore, it is my hope that the software created and tested in this research can be used as a guide for more broadly designed tools to digitize analog archaeological legacy data. ...
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Software now allows archaeologists to document excavations in more detail than ever before through rich, born-digital datasets. In comparison, paper documentation of past excavations (a valuable corpus of legacy data) is prohibitively difficult to work with. This pilot study explores creating custom software to digitize paper field notes from the 1970s excavations of the Gulkana site into machine-readable text and maps to be compatible with born-digital data from subsequent excavations in the 1990s. This site, located in Alaska's Copper River Basin, is important to archaeological understanding of metalworking innovation by precontact Northern Dene people, but is underrepresented in the literature because no comprehensive map of the site exists. The process and results of digitizing this corpus are presented in hopes of aiding similar efforts by other researchers.
... see also Open Government Data Act, PL 115-453, Title II); journal requirements for the provision of data to support research replicability (American Journal of Biological Anthropology [AJBA] 2021; Nature 2013; Vines et al. 2013Vines et al. , 2014; and expectations around effective data management that enables data discovery, access, reuse, and long-term preservation (e.g., National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities requirements for Data Management Plans). However, despite more than a decade of efforts of reputable repositories and data publishers (e.g., Archaeology Data Service [ADS], Open Context, the Digital Archaeological Record [tDAR], and the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery [DAACS]); despite numerous publications arguing for their use (e.g., Archaeology Data Service (ADS) and Digital Antiquity 2013; Kansa 2012; Kintigh et al 2015;Marwick and Birch 2018;McManamon and Kintigh 2010;McManamon et al. 2017;Richards 2017; Saving European Archaeology from a Digital Dark Age 2020); despite long-standing statements of disciplinary ethics, including those of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) and the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), which mandate the proper stewardship of data (though usually not explicitly addressing digital data); despite the availability of highly capable technologies for data stewardship in ADS, Open Context, and tDAR; despite abundant publications providing guidance on data stewardship (ADS and Digital Antiquity 2013; Kansa and Kansa 2022, to name only two); and despite clear mandates in existing laws and regulations (Cultural Heritage Partners 2012), anecdotal evidence suggests that only a small fraction of the data from recent projects-and an even tinier proportion of data from legacy projects-are now publicly findable or accessible, let alone interoperable or reusable. ...
... Archives are specifically designated spaces for the management and long-term retention and retrieval of information. Digital archives are designed to house extensive metadata, create routines to check file status, maintain robust backup procedures, and implement security and access measures, ensuring data integrity and long-term viability (Kansa et al. 2019;McManamon et al. 2017). ...
... How we effectively archive data for reuse depends on the nature of the data product. The preservation of different file formats has been extensively covered within the field of digital preservation, as has the role of metadata (Börjesson et al. 2020;Clarke 2015;Kansa et al. 2019;McManamon et al. 2017;Niven and McManamon 2011;Richards et al. 2022;Snow et al. 2006). We encourage readers to consider which of the following archaeological information and data they create or transact with that should adhere to the FAIR principles. ...
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A fundamental task of archaeology is to address challenging scientific questions related to the complexity of human societies. If we are to systematically understand the processes that affect human societies on multiple spatial and temporal scales, research leveraging existing archaeological data is essential. However, only a fraction of the data from archaeological projects are publicly findable or accessible, let alone interoperable or reusable. This is the case despite statements of disciplinary ethics, availability of capable technologies for data stewardship, publications providing guidance, and legal mandates. This article introduces the FAIR principles for data stewardship in North American archaeology, which state that data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. We call for efforts to promote widespread adoption of the FAIR and CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) principles among professional organizations, publishers, data repositories, and researchers. We also call for adoption and implementation of requirements to adhere to these principles by governmental agencies, funding bodies, and other regulators of archaeological research. Ultimately, adoption of the FAIR principles in an ethical framework contributes to our understanding of our human experience and can lead to greater integration and reuse of research results, fostering increased partnerships between academia and industry.
... A data management plan that addresses the entire data life cycle is now considered essential for every archaeological project (Baker and Duerr 2017;Kansa and Kansa 2021;Kansa et al. 2019). However, academic researchers, land managers, and CRM contractors continue to manage a great deal of archaeological data without clear and detailed data management plans and without confronting difficult questions regarding how to care for archaeological data over the long term (McManamon and Ellison 2022;McManamon et al. 2017;Wright and Richards 2018). The data life cycle must not end with a publication or contract completion. ...
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Most archaeological investigations in the United States and other countries must comply with preservation laws, especially if they are on government property or supported by government funding. Academic and cultural resource management (CRM) studies have explored various social, temporal, and environmental contexts and produce an ever-increasing volume of archaeological data. More and more data are born digital, and many legacy data are digitized. There is a building effort to synthesize and integrate data at a massive scale and create new data standards and management systems. Taxpayer dollars often fund archaeological studies that are intended, in spirit, to promote historic preservation and provide public benefits. However, the resulting data are difficult to access and interoperationalize, and they are rarely collected and managed with their long-term security, accessibility, and ethical reuse in mind. Momentum is building toward open data and open science as well as Indigenous data sovereignty and governance. The field of archaeology is reaching a critical point where consideration of diverse constituencies, concerns, and requirements is needed to plan data collection and management approaches moving forward. This theme issue focuses on challenges and opportunities in archaeological data collection and management in academic and CRM contexts.
... On an archival front, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) was established to address data accessibility and preservation. tDAR is an international digital repository for the digital records of archaeological investigations, often known as gray literature (McManamon et al. 2017). The overarching goal is the "long-term preservation of irreplaceable archaeological data and to broadening the access to these data" (tDAR, ...
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Despite making great strides over the past 50 years, cultural resources data management and synthesis continues to be elusive and nonstandardized, with each state and agency developing disparate systems that do not easily mesh. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has embarked on a national initiative by creating a National Cultural Resources Data Standard (NCRDS) that works to address many long-standing data organization issues. The NCRDS allows for the application of more rigorous data management principles that facilitate landscape-level planning and data modeling on BLM-administered lands across the western United States. The NCRDS and associated National Cultural Resources Information Management System (NCRIMS) contains normalized data from 11 western State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and BLM data stores. NCRIMS is a web-based application hosted by the BLM's National Operations Center (NOC) Enterprise Geographic Information System (EGIS). NCRIMS allows for high-level planning during local, regional, and multistate project analyses and undertakings, facilitating consideration of cultural heritage values early in the planning process versus late stages as has been traditional. This allows the BLM to more proactively, effectively, and efficiently answer data calls and inform agency decision-makers on possible impacts to cultural heritage resources by proposed or ongoing agency actions.
... As Sullivan observes, these features provide means for identifying conceptual and methodological differences, but not for resolving them by integration. In a related spirit, the Digital Archaeological Repository (tDAR) allows users to specify and align external ontologies with the repository's internal ontology resources in order to carry out reproducible and automated data integration (McManamon et al. 2017;Altschul et al. 2017;. Sterner, Witteveen and Franz (2020) identify general conditions for when the conditions of coordination are sufficiently regular and recurring to merit formalization in their own right. ...
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Consensus about a classification is defined as agreement on a set of classes (concepts or categories) and their relations (such as generic relations and whole-part relations) for us in forming beliefs. While most research on scientific consensus has focused on consensus about a belief as a mark of truth, we highlight the importance of consensus in justifying shared classificatory language. What sort of consensus, if any, is the best basis for communicating and reasoning with scientific classifications? We describe an often-overlooked coordinative role for consensus that leverage agreement on how to disagree such that actors involved can still achieve one or more shared aims even when they do not agree on shared beliefs or categories. Looking forward, we suggest that investigating structures and methods for coordinative consensus provides an important new direction for research on the epistemic foundations of knowledge organization.
... In Dianne Fitzpatrick's recent surveys of almost 300 archaeologists working in the Middle East, we see that less than half of projects budget for the long-term care of their collections (Fitzpatrick 2011;2016: 27;Jamieson et al. 2014). While a combination of digitisation and rationalisation of finds and archives into e-depots is increasingly being adopted as a response to this problem for bulk finds and archives, this brings issues of its own, including a temporary spike in staff and equipment costs and a regular plan for metadata linking and format updates (McManamon et al. 2017). Digitisation also fails to account for the full materiality and research potential of each element of the collection, which results in a possible loss of data. ...
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Archaeological archives take up a significant amount of shelf space in any archaeological depot or museum, yet these are rarely presented as primary storytelling tools. As the public image of archaeology is still largely defined by the physical remains of sites and the finds that are associated with them, these are also often the focus of archaeological publications and displays, confining the purview of archaeological documentation to behind-the-scenes research. However, these records do not just illustrate an object, feature or site, they connect the past to the present as narratives of human interpretation and changes in archaeological and museological practice. In this paper, I draw from four brief case studies from my own research, each pertaining to different aspects of collection interpretation, display, and engagement. These practical examples highlight the importance of integrating documentary and material collections in research and outreach spaces. This integration helps us to present the diverse aspects of archaeological research, give value to under-resourced collections, explore meaning across different sources, and display the processes through which we create knowledge.
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With 10 million copies sold and 500 million dollars of revenue, the 11th installment of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018), showed how a videogame based on ancient Greek history and archaeology can make a splash in popular culture and that the distant past can become an extinguishable source of infinite engaging gaming narratives. As pedagogic and research counterparts to videogames of this kind, serious games and archaeogames focusing on Greek and Roman civilizations move from different premises, though aspiring to the same level of success. Serious games, created for a primary purpose other than sole entertainment, have found their way into classrooms and museums to educate students in a variety of disciplines mostly relying on digital storytelling strategies. Archaeogaming, on the other hand, encompasses, among other things, the creation of video games by archaeologists, who create 3D representations of the ancient material culture subject of their study, initially for the purpose of testing hypotheses in simulated environment and later to popularize archaeology and cultural heritage studies, finding a more ‘serious’ use in higher education. This dissertation deals with defining best practices in archaeogaming design and production focusing on two practical examples of re-use of digital archaeological data for the generation of game assets for teaching and public outreach. Both case studies explore the context of Late Roman Sicily on which I conducted most of the experimental work in the preparatory years of this research. The first case study will be the narrative game prototype for the Villa del Casale (Piazza Armerina) in Enna, Sicily, entitled In Ersilia’s Footsteps, featuring Ersilia Caetani-Lovatelli (1840-1925), the first female archaeologist in Italian history. The game, developed in collaboration with the University of Arkansas’ Tesseract and directed by Dr. David Fredrick and Dr. Rhodora Vennarucci, narrative follows her in the exploration of the Late Roman Imperial countryside residence and UNESCO World Heritage site. The game revolves around the use of 3D digitized assets, created employing digital photogrammetry and 3D laser-scanning to capture the archaeological site, that significantly contributed to increase the realism of the game environment influencing the game creation process towards telling stories of real historic characters in real historic places. The second game, Building by the River, is an a building and experimental archaeogame, aimed at both contextualized elements from the archaeological site as well as the ability aid researchers in understanding the relationship between space and flow in the Late Roman villa of Caddeddi on the Tellaro river (Noto). More specifically, it seeks to explore how the Villa di Caddeddi may have looked and how the rooms functioned during its time as an operating rural villa in the late 4th Century CE. Giving players the ability to pick from a list of 3D digitized assets of actual archaeological materials found both on site and in similar Sicilian Roman villas, the game seeks to engage with playful building and experimentation as seen in other popular digital game titles, like Sims 4, Subnautica, and Minecraft. The on-going work at adding assets to use in the game as well as learn more about the nature and history of the Villa di Caddeddi is discussed in terms of the second-life of digital data, archaeological interpretation, and investigation of spatial use by ancient Romans in their elite rural homes. These assets, in both In Ersilia’s Footsteps and Building by the River, represent at the same time an example in best practices in reusing 3D data, since, once used to achieve research goals, they are repurposed and in combination with an original narrative and a user-friendly interface and mechanics they become the core of an engaging and exciting exploration game. Ultimately, the experimental work, the new data gathered and the production of two original media research tools have proven to be a strategic decision to advance the digital scholarship agenda on Roman archaeology of Sicily and to trace a path for incorporating archaeogaming as a methodological approach into a research framework. The ability to re-use scientific data for the purpose of public outreach, education, and research allows for archaeologists to address pseudoscience and dangerous representations of the field. As such, the need to provide assets for games can be served through the second life of 3D digital archaeological materials.
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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been used in archaeology for four decades, and colloquially appears to have become a main tool in the geospatial aspects of archaeological practice. In this paper, we examine temporal trends in the use and/or mention of GIS in archaeological publications (books and journal articles), conference presentations, and websites. We gathered data through keyword searches and with formal sampling surveys and conducted both quantitative and qualitative analyses to characterize the changing nature and intensity of GIS use in archaeology over time. We show how archaeological GIS-use has grown from a few early adopters of the 1980’s, through a slow initial integration phase in the 1990’s, to a punctuated set of two major expansions in the 2000’s and 2010’s. While we find that basic use of GIS has grown to the point where it can be considered ubiquitous – if not universal – in the discipline, we also discovered that the major focus in archaeological GIS advancement is methodological rather than theoretical. We provide a historical context to this temporal pattern and identify five roadblocks that we believe have hampered the development of a theory-rich archaeological GIS: 1) deficiencies in the archaeological GIS education model, 2) over-reliance on commercial software, 3) technical/technological barriers, 4) gaps in acceptance of GIS, and 5) the perception of GIS as “just a tool.” We offer initial suggestions for ways forward to mitigate the effects of these roadblocks and build a more robust, theoretically sophisticated relationship with GIS in archaeology.
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Digital-born research archives, data re-use, participation and the inclusion of academic and lay stakeholders in archaeological knowledge production. These are important topics that are increasingly addressed but often overlooked in the creative stages of archiving, be it data collection or the reproduction of an archiving practice. This creative practice is affected and changing due to the implementation of digital technology. These practices are reproduced in the design of the research archive and, as such, the impact of technology can potentially be scrutinised and traced reversely by analysing the uses of the archive. In addition, digital technology is believed to prompt greater inclusivity of diverse audiences. But how to reach that audience, and who is this “audience”? In this paper, emphasis is placed to reflect upon the practice of archiving of ongoing, post-excavation archaeological research with an audience, as opposed to well-established reflexive research into excavation and museum practices. As such, the concept of archiving as research process, rather than the traditional approach towards archives as data repositories is introduced here. As a case study to identify and assess potential change in a particular archaeological practice, the paper describes and analyses the archiving practice of the team of the Tracing the Potter's Wheel-project, from its inception in offices and storerooms to the archive's targeted manifold use as a place of knowledge production, data sharing and learning.
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In the 21st century, digital data drive innovation and decision-making in nearly every field. However, little is known about the total size, characteristics, and sustainability of these data. In the scholarly sphere, it is widely suspected that there is a gap between the amount of valuable digital data that is produced and the amount that is effectively stewarded and made accessible. The Stewardship Gap Project ( investigates characteristics of, and measures, the stewardship gap for sponsored scholarly activity in the United States. This paper presents a preliminary definition of the stewardship gap based on a review of relevant literature and investigates areas of the stewardship gap for which metrics have been developed and measurements made, and where work to measure the stewardship gap is yet to be done. The main findings presented are 1) there is not one stewardship gap but rather multiple “gaps” that contribute to whether data is responsibly stewarded; 2) there are relationships between the gaps that can be used to guide strategies for addressing the various stewardship gaps; and 3) there are imbalances in the types and depths of studies that have been conducted to measure the stewardship gap.
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and data sets resulting from the archaeological investigations un-dertaken for the Theodore Roosevelt Dam project in the Tonto Basin of central Arizona. At present, this tDAR collection includes over two dozen volumes (more than 11,200 pages), plus several articles that present the results of the investigations undertaken as a part of the Roosevelt Dam project. In addition, we present 205 spreadsheets of key data tables extracted from the comprehensive database of the largest of these projects (the Roosevelt Platform Mound Study [RPMS]) along with the complete database of archaeological data for that project. We intend to continue to expand this collection, especially with databases and extracted spreadsheets from the other two projects. Making the collection of data and information available in tDAR allows anyone with an Internet connection to benefit from unlimited, text-searchable access to the full set of reports that represents core documentation of the Salado phenomenon, important aspects of the ancient Hohokam culture, and a detailed case study of the economic and social organization of village-scale human societies. By providing access to key data tables and the full database we hope to facilitate and stimulate comparative studies and additional analysis of this enormous set of data that will further advance our knowledge of these ancient cultures and the workings of human societies more generally.
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Main Sections: Agriculture and Domestication.- Archaeology of Art.- Archaeology in the Modern World.- Archaeological Science.- Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology.- Classical Archaeology.- Conservation and Preservation.- Cultural Heritage Management.- Environmental Archaeology.- Ethics.- Extreme Environments.- Field Archaeology.- Geographical and Cultural Overview Essays.- Historical Archaeology.- History of Archaeology.- Human Evolution.- Hunter-Gatherer and Mid-Range Societies.- Indiginous Archaeology.- Islamic Archaeology.- Legislation.- Medieval Archaeology.- Museums.- Near East .- Political and Social Archaeology.- Public Education.- Theory.- Underwater and Maritme Archaeology.- World Heritage.
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The long term care of collected and created data is an ethical obligation in the fields of archaeology and cultural heritage management. With the growing application of digital methodologies in these fields and the complexity of the resulting data, this task has become complicated. Digital data preservation firms have emerged since this methodological shift, but their policies—championing the democratization of academic data—may conflict with the legal obligations dictated by the countries where data originate. Scholars thus face the inevitable choice between one obligation and another, one ethical and one legal. While the amount of digital data grows and the solutions for their preservation remain fundamentally misaligned with research norms and project workflows, the digital dilemma places the integrity of data at risk of loss. This article addresses this dilemma by evaluating the existing data archival, data publication, and data preservation repositories and how, as solutions to the digital dilemma, they can be integrated into multiple workflows. I also propose new directions for archaeological associations in that they should establish a means of evaluation and approval for third party preservation firms managing the future of academic research prior to their inevitable ubiquity.
In 2016 the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) was 20 years old. Since its birth the ADS has had to respond to rapid changes in technology, as well as major cultural and organizational changes in the external operating environment, from which a sustainable business model for digital preservation has emerged. This article will take a retrospective look at challenges that have been faced and will review current and future priorities for those seeking to establish digital repositories. Digital preservation and open access to research data are now much higher up the agenda of funding bodies, but there is still lack of agreement on what constitutes a core digital archive from a fieldwork project. The paper will review what the significant properties of an archaeological archive are, and how reuse can be supported, linking data and publications. It will consider the challenge of dealing with the gray literature and of avoiding creating further data silos, featuring new initiatives to provide interoperability between digital repositories. It will review the role of data and metadata standards, and consider how the profession needs to address its responsibilities over the next 20 years.
Archaeologists’ newfound ability to access vast digital collections creates opportunities but also presents challenges when those collections are from varied sources, including public institutions and private collectors. We illustrate these challenges by comparing two analyses of gender in Mimbres pottery images. Both analyses used the same procedures, but one included material in private collections, while the second drew on a smaller but more controlled sample. Gender distinctions and division of labor were revealed by the first analysis, but the results were not duplicated in the reanalysis using the controlled sample. We consider reasons for the difference, addressing how collectors’ interests may skew collections and suggesting that some particularly desirable Mimbres pottery designs were created using modern paint. The article concludes with recommendations for how archaeologists can best use mixed collections. These include considering how collections might be skewed and designing analyses to counterbalance likely issues, more chemical analyses with representative samples to gauge the extent of modern manipulation of Mimbres vessels, collecting data on the provenance (i.e., collection history) of material in order to try to trace the likelihood of post-excavation modifications, and studying the process of collecting as a means of understanding the authenticity of artifacts.
This issue of C&RL is focused on scholarly communication, and it seems appropriate, in this invited guest editorial, to step back and examine the broader agenda that academic and research libraries need to consider today in engaging with scholarly communications as a way of framing the issue. My view is that this agenda is ripe for re-thinking. The overall environment has changed significantly in the last few years, underscoring the growing irrelevance of some long-held ideas, and at the same time, clearly identifying new and urgent priorities. What I hope to do here is to summarize very succinctly my thoughts on the most pressing issues and the areas most needing reconsideration. Articles in this issue touch upon aspects of many of these topics; I hope that future authors may also find topical inspirations here. You’ll note that many of these are issues that have been important to the CNI agenda in recent years, and I’ve included a few references to some of these materials.
For more than 30 years, an increasing number of repositories across the US charge fees for curatorial services when archaeological collections are deposited with them. These fees are instituted to meet the costs of providing high-quality collections care and upholding professional curatorial standards. An informal yet systematic study of repository fees was performed in 1997/98, 2002 and, most recently, in 2007/08 to examine these charges. This article provides current information on curation fee structures across the US, criteria used to establish those fees, and the variability of fees. Significant trends and issues evident over the last ten years and relevant to both the archaeological and curatorial communities are discussed. These include the costs of the archaeological associated records, the impact of curation costs on archaeological fieldwork, the lack of curation space, and the possible need for accreditation or certification of repositories that charge fees for curation.Durante más de 30 años, en todos los EEUU ha habido un número cada vez mayor de repositorios que cobran una comisión para servicios de conservación cuando colecciones de objetos arqueológicos son depositados en ellos. Estas tarifas se instituyen para sufragar los gastos asociados con la prestación de servicios de alta calidad de conservación de colecciones y la mantención de normas profesionales curatoriales. Se realizó un estudio informal pero sistemático sobre las comisiones cobradas por los repositorios en 1997/98, 2002, y, más recientemente, en 2007/08 para examinar estas comisiones. Este artículo proporciona información actualizada sobre las estructuras de las comisiones cobradas por servicios de conservación en todos los EEUU, los criterios utilizados para establecer esas comisiones, y la variabilidad entre dichas comisiones. Tendencias y problemas importantes que se han hecho evidentes durante los últimos diez años y que son relevantes para las comunidades arqueológicas y curatoriales se discuten. Estos incluyen los costos de registros asociados arqueológicos, el impacto de los costos de conservación en el trabajo de campo arqueológico, la falta de espacio para la conservación de objetos, y la posible necesidad de acreditación or certificación de los repositorios que cobran comisiones para servicios de conservación