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2012 Grants

28 June 2012

The Center for Digital Antiquity received many good proposals for the  Digital Antiquity-tDAR 2012 grants program.  Our evaluation panel has evaluated the proposals.  We are in the process of working with the highest ranked proposers on final conditions and scopes for grants.  We will announce all the grant awards when these negotiations are completed.

11 April 2012

The Center for Digital Antiquity is seeking proposals for projects that will contribute digital archaeological information, e.g., documents, data sets (databases and spreadsheets), images, etc.  to tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), an international digital repository.

Digital Antiquity grant funds for 2012 will support the direct costs of ingesting existing digital objects into tDAR, e.g.:

  • personnel costs related to organizing files and other materials prior to uploading,
  • costs to create administrative and substantive descriptions (i.e., metadata) for each file, and
  • costs for uploading a copy of the digital file into the repository.

Grants are not available for digitization of archival data or for newly funded projects, which should include as part of their budgets funding for digital curation fees.

Cultural resource management (CRM) firms, public agencies, individual researchers, universities, colleges, and other organizations are invited to submit brief proposals using the outline and criteria described below.  Grants of up to $7,000 will be provided. Slightly larger awards will be considered for exceptional proposals.

Review of proposals will begin 15 May 2012 and will continue until funds are committed.

Sections of this Document:

Why Use tDAR?

Professional ethics, public laws, and regulations require that archaeological collections and associated records, including digital data and documents, be made available for scientific and educational purposes.  Digital records, like the physical remains and paper records, must be preserved and made available for use in the future. Much of the archaeological record now exists only as collections and data from investigations undertaken prior to the destruction of in situ sites or portions of sites.  Access to and preservation of these archival parts of the archaeological record is especially important since there is no alternative source of information.

tDAR has been established to achieve two basic goals:

  • to provide for appropriate, broad, and easy access to archaeological information, and
  • to ensure the preservation of archaeological information for future use.

tDAR provides the means to organize and manage digital archaeological data for a variety of purposes.  Contributors can protect information that should remain confidential and provide access to archaeological information for which public availability is appropriate.  Used in these ways, tDAR can assist contributors, agency managers, and others in meeting their responsibilities for accountability, data management, public outreach, and resource preservation.

tDAR provides a stable, web-accessible location where researchers can publish and make available archaeological documents, data sets (databases and spreadsheets), images, and other digital files for colleagues, other researchers, and those interested in archaeological information. Knowledge gained through the efforts of many researchers is shared through tDAR in order to encourage and facilitate archaeological and related research.  Users who wish to contribute digital files to tDAR or download files to the repository must register.  Registration is free but requires that users affirm:

  • that any uses and applications of content from tDAR will be cited and attributed properly to relevant contributors; and,
  • they will not use any content obtained through tDAR in ways that could be reasonably expected to lead, directly or indirectly, to damage to the archaeological record.

Through its “search” functions, tDAR enables users to identify and easily access archaeological information.  The ability to access existing data and documents is essential for comparative research and future information synthesis.  In addition, tDAR includes special data integration tools that enable researchers to develop comparative studies of data sets.

In tDAR, contributors can deposit several kinds of archaeological digital objects:

  • documents in PDF formats, e.g., reports of archaeological field investigations, collections and historical research,  and historical documents about archaeological resources, research projects, and organizations;
  • spreadsheets in Excel formats and databases in Access formats that describe archaeological data sets about artifacts, features, sites, or other archaeological phenomenon; and,
  • images and illustrations in JPEG, TIFF, or 3D scan formats of archaeological resources or related to archaeological investigations.

Future releases of tDAR will expand the range of digital objects that can be ingested and preserved in the repository to include GIS data.

Examples of Successful Past Awards

Those interested in submitting proposals for projects should look at the records in tDAR generated by 2011 grants projects ( 2011 Grantees) or other contributions.  Examples include:

  • The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project ( A collaboration between Western Michigan University and the City of Niles, MI, to investigate, interpret, and preserve the physical remains of the site of Fort St. Joseph; a mission, garrison, and trading post complex occupied from 1691 to 1781 by the French then British. The project created a robust program of public archaeology involving the community in the preservation of the site and more generally, the practice of archaeology.  The digital archive for the project includes 63 resources:  reports, analyses, theses, and interpretive documents; maps and other images; and data sets.
  • Aztec Ruin National Monument created seven projects in tDAR to provide access to and preservation of documents and images related to the site.  Included in the digital archive are copies of reports describing excavations by Earl Morris between 1916 and 1922 (  Three of the projects (; and contain photo-documentation of the Aztec East and West Ruins architectural features. Three of the projects (; and include images of ceramic and perishable artifacts recovered during archaeological excavations at the national monument.
  • Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture ( and Using detailed comparisons of the archaeological assemblages from 18 early sites in the Chesapeake, the documents and data sets in this collection and project explore and can be used to further investigate the material conditions of culture contact, plantation development and organization, the rise of slavery, and consumer behavior. Comparable artifact databases have been created for the 18 sites, and analysis of artifact distributions has provided great insight into differences and similarities.
  • Archaeological investigations at the ancient town of Pueblo Grande (AZ U:9:7 [ASM]), now in Phoenix, AZ.  A set of 10 different projects in tDAR (e.g., and the Lauth Property Group and Kitchell development provide  reports and data from archaeological investigations conducted between 1990 and 2007.
  • Archaeological Sites, Driftless Area, Grant County, Wisconsin (, which includes seven documents and other images and data sets reporting on CRM studies by the Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center conducted between 2004 and 2006 in this area.
  • The Aztec Ruin Dendro Data Project of the University of Arizona, Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research (, which includes 4,677 digital resources about dendrochronological (archaeological tree-ring) samples extracted from the structures of Aztec Ruin National Monument beginning in 1919 and continuing to present. Included are detailed sample data, summary information, sample catalog numbers, National Park Service inventory numbers, field notes, correspondence, and other pertinent records.
  • Other tDAR projects and collections that might be useful to view when contemplating applying for a 2012 Digital Antiquity  tDAR grant include:
    • The Verde Valley Project, in southern Arizona (, which includes 38 documents and other digital resources describing archaeological investigations for a large Bureau of Reclamation project..
    • The Archaeology of Lake Elsinore, California, which includes 25 documents of different sorts and four sets of photos and maps related to the excavation of the site.
    • The Phoenix Basin Project (, which contains 40 digital reports or summaries of investigations conducted for large transportation projects during the 1980s and 1990s.
    • The Archaeology of Cape Cod (, which contains 44 documents and images related to archaeological and historical studies conducted from the 1970s to the present.

Guidelines for Proposals

Digital Antiquity 2012 grant funds are intended to fund the direct costs of adding digital archaeological data to tDAR, including personnel costs related to creating administrative and substantive metadata and uploading a copy of the digital object into the repository.  Funds for personnel costs needed to organize digital files are allowable.   In all cases, digital files that are contributed to tDAR through the grant program must be documented as completely as possible using tDAR’s web-based resource entry forms.  Potential applicants are encouraged to experiment with tDAR’s resource contributors’ interface ( while developing proposals.  At present, Digital Antiquity is waiving upload fees for individuals to allow for this experimentation and encourage use.

Proposals should focus on the contribution to tDAR of documents, data sets, images, and other resources already available in digital formats, although a case for funding of limited digitization might be made in exceptional cases.  While tDAR has the capability to accommodate data that are confidential (e.g., information about specific site locations) or that are temporarily embargoed (e.g., pending publication), grants will only fund the uploading of digital objects that are publicly available by the end of the grant.  Proposals that leverage Digital Antiquity grant funds with matching funds or contributed effort are encouraged.  Leveraged proposals may include digitization accomplished using external resources.  For example, an agency or CRM firm might commit its own funds to digitizing (into full-text searchable form) a series of reports but seek grant funding to assist in creating metadata and uploading the files to tDAR.

No indirect costs, overhead, or profit will be supported by the grants.

Online guidance (help and tutorials) and email and telephone technical support for the ingest process will be provided by Digital Antiquity.

Grantees will not be expected to pay Digital Antiquity’s upload fees.


Proposals should include two to four pages of text describing the proposed project, how it will be carried out, and how it addresses the evaluation factors listed below.  Proposals should include an itemized budget and a narrative explanation and justification of no more than one page. Accepted proposals may require additional paperwork for processing of grant funds.

Proposals that include the use of additional outside resources must attach documentation of a commitment to matching funds or contributed effort.

Review of proposals will begin 15 May 2012 and continue until funds are committed.  Decisions regarding grants are expected to be made beginning in mid-June 2012.

Funds for grants are expected to be available by 1 August 2012.

Projects must be completed by 15 January 2013, with approved final reports by 15 February 2013.

Questions regarding the proposals should be addressed to, or in a voicemail to Grants Manager, Digital Antiquity at 480-965-1369.

Proposals should be submitted by email to:

Evaluation of Proposals

Each proposal will be evaluated with respect to two factors:

  • its impact in demonstrating value to the core constituencies of tDAR users (archaeologists and other researchers in CRM firms, public agencies, universities, colleges, and museums and cultural resource managers in public agencies);  and
  • its fiscal effectiveness in terms of the number and value of digital objects to be added to tDAR for the amount of funding sought in the proposal.

Impact. Factors contributing positively include:

1.  Geographical or thematic coherence. Geographic or thematically based projects that will add to tDAR digital objects of general interest to future users of tDAR will be evaluated favorably.  To the extent that there is relatively comprehensive coverage of an area or theme, tDAR‘s value for management, public interpretation, and research is enhanced.  For example, a thematically oriented project might contribute to tDAR a large number of digital files related to a specific site type that would enable resource managers to make evidence-based compliance decisions concerning the types of sites likely (or not) to yield certain types of important archaeological features or remains.  Another kind of project would be for an agency or CRM firm to make widely available the results of a large and high profile archaeological project.

2.  Breadth of audience interest. Information resources that would be of interest to a wide range of users (e.g., digital files that have received a substantial attention in the published archaeological literature, but have not been widely available; or digital objects related to famous archaeological sites) will help build the tDAR user base. Agencies or other organizations may be interested in proposing projects that demonstrate their contributions to research questions of broad scholarly and public interest.  Proposed projects might add to tDAR digital objects related to archaeological resources associated with special topics, such as, the initial peopling of North America, the early development of agriculture, or the growth of markets, industries, or urban centers during the historic period.

3.  Within-project integration of multiple types of digital objects. Proposals that contribute different types of digital files (i.e., documents, data sets, and images) related to the same or similar archaeological investigations will be favored.  Also, projects demonstrating the archival capabilities and the management and research advantages of such integrated curation will be ranked higher.  For example, burial grounds often yield a variety of digital objects, including data sets recording artifacts and biometrics, digital images, and documents describing the archaeological investigations, related oral histories, and other archival documents.  Some of the objects related to such sites may be subject to repatriation, so that the only records that remain publicly available are in digital format.

4.  Cross-project integration. Proposals that demonstrate the integration of resource management and scientific research across archaeological projects will be considered favorably.  Such cross-project integration is especially encouraged for documents and data sets that have previously been isolated due to jurisdictional or institutional separation.  Similarly, data sets that can be shown to have a strong potential for “across-dataset” integration with existing tDAR data will be favored.  Proposals that would create new or enhanced management capabilities or that are likely to lead to new insights or conclusions will be ranked favorably.  For example, to improve historical context and National Register eligibility assessments, a project could register a number of digital objects from an environmentally and culturally cohesive region.  Similarly, syntheses enabled by tDAR could address important archaeological issues, such as regional settlement patterns, adaptive ecological responses, or demographic change and thus contribute to SHPO and agency resource interpretation or management efforts.

Fiscal Effectiveness. The fiscal effectiveness of a grant is a judgment based on the expected impact of the number and/or quality of the digital objects contributed by the project to tDAR and the amount of Digital Antiquity funds requested in the proposal.

In evaluating fiscal effectiveness, we will consider the likely impacts of a proposed project as a whole.  Proposals that include matching funds and contributed effort will be considered favorably.  Budgets will be evaluated on the efficiency with which the Digital Antiquity-funded effort is planned.


In addition to a list of digital documents, data sets, and/or images that are added to tDAR, each funded project will be required to provide a brief final report documenting:

  • the actual effort applied (a set of activities for which time records are to be kept will be provided by Digital Antiquity),
  • the amount of content added to tDAR,
  • management innovations, and
  • knowledge-generation achievements.

Information from these reports may be used by Digital Antiquity at its discretion and will be appropriately attributed.


Grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded.  Slightly larger awards will be considered for exceptional proposals.

Review of proposals will begin 15 May 2012 and will continue until funds are committed. Awards will be announced as they are made, with initial announcements expected around the middle of June 2012.