Skip to content
Nov 27 / laellison

Digital Antiquity Awarded CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship–Apply Now!

We are pleased to announce that The Center for Digital Antiquity and the ASU Libraries have been awarded a two-year Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellowship in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences.  This competitive award provides funding for a postdoctoral scholar with a Ph.D. in Anthropology, Archaeology or a closely related field.  The fellow will serve as a digital data curator working with archaeological data collections deposited in the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), a digital repository for archaeological information.  Although not a librarian, the fellow will work closely with ASU Libraries staff on new initiatives in research data management and repository development.  Additionally, the fellow will have the opportunity to develop, execute, and publish research related to tDAR that contributes substantially to scholarship and to Digital Antiquity’s objectives.

This is an exciting opportunity for Digital Antiquity and the ASU Libraries to forge and strengthen connections between the libraries’ expertise in data management services and the data management needs of new research faculty. Both the ASU Libraries and Digital Antiquity will benefit from the fellow’s field-specific expertise to gain insight into new uses for the digital collections in tDAR and the ASU Digital Repository.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that collaborates with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning to develop strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning.   Established in 2004, the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports postdoctoral fellowships in Academic Libraries, Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences, and Data Curation for Medieval Studies.  Since then, the program has supported over 60 fellows in institutions throughout the United States and Canada.

Recruitment for the ASU CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship is on-going, with the anticipated start date of July, 2013.  For the full job announcement and information on how to apply please visit

Jun 11 / laellison

1960’s Archives of Archaeology Series Finds New Home in the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR)

In 1960, at its annual meeting, the Society for American Archaeology authorized the establishment of a new publication series making use of Microcards as the medium of publication. This move toward a condensed, durable, and accessible medium of publishing archaeological data and reports was viewed as a new approach to preservation technology in 1960. The University of Wisconsin was chosen to publish the series and a total of 29 archaeological reports on Microcards were published between 1960 and 1967 as the Archives of Archaeology series. Joseph Tiffany, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Executive Director of the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center, details the process undertaken to digitize the 29 volumes in his article “Digitizing The Archives of Archaeology Series,” published in the May 2012 edition of the SAA Archaeological Record. Today, the Archives of Archaeology series has been integrated into tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record) in keeping with the original publication’s goals for preservation and access. These archaeological reports, with analysis and descriptions of archaeological investigations and resources from Central America to Alaska to Japan, are reproduced digitally and in their full form in tDAR. Now these once relatively obscure reports are available for access at any time via the Internet. The entire list can be viewed as a tDAR collection at Individual reports can be accessed in tDAR using the list at the bottom of this news item. These archaeological reports contain data that has never been published before in a widely circulating format. They include early investigations into the effects of climate change on prehistoric peoples in Iowa, full survey reports from the 1959-1962 Southwest Archaeological Expedition of the Chicago Natural History Museum (also known as the Field Museum) in eastern Arizona, and a first look at English-translated Japanese archaeological reports that are foundational in current understandings of pre-ceramic Japanese occupations. Examine some of the archaeological documents here:

It is interesting to note that the original intent of the Archives of Archaeology Microcard publication program, to provide an easy and reliable means of access to detailed archaeological reports, is now being fulfilled by a new technology. The Center for Digital Antiquity, which maintains tDAR, has as its mission providing for access to archaeological information and ensuring its long term preservation.

May 31 / laellison

Digital Antiquity’s Brin and McManamon Guest Blog for SHA Tech Week

Digital Antiquity Technology Director Adam Brin and Executive Director Francis P. McManamon are co-contributors to the Society of Historical Archaeology’s  May 2012 Tech Week Blog. This week’s blog topic, hosted by the SHA Technology Committee, examines the use and application of digital data in historical archaeology. Brin and McManamon, along with representatives from “Stories Past”  and the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), were invited to comment on the future of online databases and data sharing, the role played by their organizations in the larger field of archaeological data sharing and online databases, and the major hurdles that stand in the way of wide-scale acceptance and use of online databases in the archaeological community.

In their commentary, Brin and McManamon review the challenges and opportunities with archaeological data access, use, and preservation, sharing their concerns and solutions for sustainability of digital repositories. They support and encourage the notion that the archaeological community, together with technologists, can build tools that digitally preserve important archaeological data and make it accessible for analysis and re-use in ways that could only be dreamed of in the past.  The blog, “Sustainable Archaeological Databases – a view from Digital Antiquity” posted on May 29th, 2012. To read more and join in the discussion, click here.

May 22 / laellison

University Press of Colorado Adds Content to the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR)

Working with digital curators at the Center for Digital Antiquity, the University Press of Colorado has added to the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) information about 27 of its books on archaeological topics.

The subject matter of the books includes a wide range of topics and locations, including the Maya area, Amazonia, Colorado, and the American Southwest.  Registered tDAR users may download the books’ tables of contents and introductions from the tDAR record.

One of the most recent books in the UPC catalog, Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology, edited by Jago Cooper and Payson Sheets, may be downloaded in its entirety,

This arrangement adds to the archaeological information already available through tDAR, whose content is indexed for searches by Google and other main search engines, and exposes the University Press of Colorado’s archaeological catalog to searchers who otherwise may be unaware of its available books.

You can find the tDAR collection that lists the UPC publications here.

Apr 26 / laellison

Francis McManamon to give Plenary at High-Tech Heritage Conference

Francis McManamon, Executive Director of Digital Antiquity will give a plenary at the High-Tech Heritage Conference in Amherst, MA, May 2-4, 2012. Frank will discuss the challenges of archiving, preserving, and using archaeological data in the 21st century.  Using examples from the 19th, 20th, and peering into the 21st, Frank will outline the transformative nature of digital data on archaeology’s past, present, and future, and identify some case studies and cautionary tales along the way. Learn more about the role and responsibilities of Digital Repositories and why tools like tDAR and organizations like Digital Antiquity are critical to the future of archaeology. Access a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation here: Archaeological Information: Access, Preservation, and Use in the 21st Century.

Apr 15 / abrin

Join the Archaeology Grand Challenge

Participate in an effort to identify “grand challenge” problems in archaeology. This confidential survey is a key component of an NSF-funded research project that will compile and publish a list of “grand challenge” problems in archaeology and develop an associated plan that would justify major US National Science Foundation (NSF) investments in computational infrastructure for archaeology.  To participate, please go to:

Professional archaeologists and archaeology graduate students are invited to contribute. The important questions don’t have national boundaries and we want to include a broad spectrum of professional voices, including those outside the US.  Please feel free to forward this request to other interested individuals.  Participation is voluntary but you must be at least 18.  The survey takes only 2-10 minutes. For additional information you may follow the link or contact Keith Kintigh (principal investigator).

Keith Kintigh, Arizona State University
Jeffrey Altschul, Statistical Research, Inc. & SRI Foundation
Ann Kinzig, Arizona State University
W. Fredrick Limp, University of Arkansas
William Michener, University of New Mexico
Jeremy Sabloff, Santa Fe Institute

Apr 11 / abrin

Announcing the 2012 Digital Antiquity Grants Program

Digital Antiquity solicits proposals to support the archiving of digital archaeological data and documents in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record –, a international digital repository. Reports and data shared through tDAR are made accessible on the web and their long-term preservation is ensured.

Public agencies, CRM firms, individuals, universities, colleges, and other organizations are invited to submit brief proposals explaining the value of the information to be contributed. A wide array of projects will be considered, such as individual projects, regional archives, and thematic research. Grants up to $7,000 will be awarded.

Rapid review of proposals will begin 15 May, 2012 and continue until funds are committed.

Complete details at

Feb 8 / abrin

Digital Antiquity Brings tDAR to the SAA

Digital Antiquity representatives will be on hand at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Memphis, Tennessee from April 18-22, 2012.

Participate in a tDAR Workshop:

On Wednesday, April 18 and Saturday, April 21 from 1 – 4 PM, Digital Antiquity will present an intensive workshop entitled “Using tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record) to Improve Your Professional Productivity.” The workshop will use tDAR as a lens to focus on issues of data sharing, maintaining confidentiality, citation and fair use, public engagement, and digital preservation. Digital Antiquity instructors will demonstrate the basic use of tDAR to participants, who are encouraged to bring their own sample images and data to upload during the session. Attendance is free of additional charge, but is limited to 30 persons per session (one Wednesday and one Saturday) and requires pre-registration online or via mail or fax using the advance registration form. Don’t forget to register by March 17 to receive discounts on the normal meeting fee as well as some workshops and outings!

Visit the Booth:

Don’t forget to visit us at the tDAR booth (#615) in the Exhibit Hall open from 9-5 April 19-21!

Attend one of the forums:

Digital Antiquity will also be hosting a Forum on Sunday, April 22 from 8 AM – 12 PM called “Using the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) for Management, Research and Education.” Discussants include researchers from a variety of backgrounds who have used tDAR for their academic research, through Digital Antiquity grants, and for their doctoral dissertation research. This forum requires no additional registration—we hope to see you there!

Digital Antiquity will be co-hosting a Forum with the Archaeology Data Service in the UK on Thursday, April 19th in the evening called “Digital Data Standards and ‘Best Practices’ Needed for Access to and Preservation of Archaeological Information.” This forum will focus on the recently updated Guides to Good Practice, and improving preservation and access of archaeological information.

Digital Antiquity Staff will also be contributing to the following SAA Events:

  • The Impact of Special Purpose Institutions on the Future of Archaeology
  • Digital Data Standards and “Best Practices” Needed for Access to and Preservation of Archaeological Information
  • The Future of Archaeological Publishing
  • Virtual Archaeology: The Creation, Dissemination, and Use of Virtualized Artifacts, Sites, Assemblages, and Archives
  • Mortuary Practices in the American Southwest: Patterns and Inference from Regional Databases
  • Capacity-Building for Archaeology in the 21st Century: How will People Manage the Information Explosion

Remember, even if you are not able to make it out to Memphis this year, you can still explore and use tDAR by registering, browsing and searching today.

Jan 26 / abrin

Digital Antiquity Ensures access to Archaeological Data that Otherwise may be Lost

Preserving archaeological information, facilitating access to a wide range of digital documents and data, and enhancing archaeological research are vital services that Arizona State University’s Center for Digital Antiquity provides for researchers, students and the public.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a grant of $1.2 million beginning in March 2012 that will support the center’s operations and development. The grant enables the center to greatly expand the content of its digital repository, to enlarge the community of users and to continue development and enhancement of software to improve the repository user’s experience.

The Center for Digital Antiquity develops, maintains and oversees the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), the country’s largest digital repository of world-wide archaeological data and information. The Center was established in 2009 with support from an earlier grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Technology has changed the way that people create and store information – moving from books and paper to digital files stored on tape, floppy disks, CD-ROMs and other media. A problem associated with this shift is that digital files are far more susceptible to loss due to degradation of storage media, software obsolescence and inadequate documentation.

When this happens with archaeological data, it is especially tragic. It entails a loss of irreplaceable information about our national and global heritage and represents a waste of time, effort and public money that has been expended to collect, analyze and report the data.

“In laboratory-based science, experiments can be repeated; however, you can’t dig a site twice,” said Keith Kintigh, ASU professor and sustainability scientist, who was the principal investigator for the first Mellon grant and is a co-principal investigator on the new grant. “The archaeological record provides our only access to most of human history. For example, human societies both contribute to and respond to gradual environmental change. Archaeological evidence allows us to better understand the conditions under which societies are resilient to long-term change, and the configurations that lead to collapse.”

Francis P. McManamon, Center for Digital Antiquity executive director and principal investigator for the new Mellon grant, notes that “approximately 40,000 archaeological investigations take place every year in the United States, yet only a handful thoroughly publish their findings and the supporting data in traditional, general distribution books. Most projects do produce limited distribution paper reports that end up in just a few of the thousands of state and federal agency offices and university libraries.” Compounding this problem, there is no reliable way to discover the existence of reports relevant to a particular research topic and the reports are frequently difficult to use and expensive to obtain.

The situation with the supporting data is far worse. Even in the unusual case that the supporting data (notes, drawings, photos etc.) exists in a public repository, they are even harder to find and are rarely adequately documented or maintained. Adam Brin, Center for Digital Antiquity director of technology and a co-principal investigator on the new grant, adds: “we want to make sure that these unpublished reports and the almost-never published supporting data and analyses are easily discoverable and widely accessible now and in 100 years. We have designed and built tDAR to ensure this.”

tDAR has been in full operation for about a year and is growing rapidly with thousands of documents, data sets and images, including 3-D scans of artifacts.

“By providing Web-based discovery and access of reports, images and well-documented data sets, tDAR enables archaeological syntheses that could never have been done before. tDAR’s cutting-edge data integration tools allow researchers to analyze data across projects that span large areas and long time intervals yielding new knowledge about the past,” Kintigh said.

Organizations that currently use tDAR as a digital repository include the Phoenix Area office of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Midwest Archeological Center of the National Park Service, the Mimbres Foundation and the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization.

“We have archaeological information from across the United States, from the Arctic to the Southwest, and from the West coast to New England. Documents, data sets and images from places like Cape Cod, coastal Georgia, the California desert, the Great Lakes region and New York City, as well as from right here in Phoenix and Tucson, can be found in tDAR,” McManamon said.

“We believe that digital copies of reports, along with the photographs, data sets and the other digital data from each project should be deposited in a trusted digital repository, such as tDAR, as part of every project’s normal workflow.  This will ensure that these digital records are preserved and can be easily discovered, accessed and used by current and future scholars,” he added.

The repository is ideal for public agencies, research organizations and individual scholars who want to preserve and protect their archaeological research project records, while making them readily available for use in research, leading to new discoveries and better understanding of the past. Agencies and scholars also will find tDAR an effective and efficient means of providing appropriate access to their research results to the general public.

“We now have in tDAR the archaeological reports from many large projects that were completed decades ago,” McManamon said. “For example, the repository includes a large number of reports and detailed records from archaeological investigations in the Phoenix area that were completed in advance of the construction of the Papago Freeway, the Hohokam Expressway and the Central Arizona Project.”

Securing a grant to ensure the future of The Center for Digital Antiquity represents an important professional milestone for McManamon, who spent 32 years at the National Park Service where he served as chief archeologist and recognized the need for an archaeological information repository like tDAR.

“We have a terrific tool,” he said. “The repository has been a crucial need for many years. We are very grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its essential and steady support that is advancing scholarship and preserving irreplaceable records of human history. We’re committed to rapidly expanding our collection of information and to building tDAR’s user community while ensuring long-term digital access to the archaeological record.”

The Center is associated with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Global Institute of Sustainability, and the University Libraries.

Aug 30 / hanreitz

CLIR Report on Digital Classics Highlights Digital Antiquity, ADS, Open Context

CLIR (the Council on Library and Information Resources) recently released a comprehensive report“Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day”: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classics, which covers various issues in the technology and overall status of digital classics research. Authored by Alison Babeu, the report’s archaeology section features the work of Digital Antiquity and tDAR, as well as that of our colleagues at ADS (Archaeology Data Service) in the UK and Open Context in the US. Although tDAR is currently focused on American archaeology, Babeu noted its potential for preservation of and access to digital classics information, as well as its importance as a tool of discovery for archaeologists performing new research. tDAR’s search feature–which extrapolates relationships between datasets based on user queries–was also explained as a unique method of comprehending the digital archaeological record. Digital Antiquity, ADS and Open Context were each lauded for their work on best practices in digital data curation; although each has a different approach to dealing with the digital archaeological record, all are focused on ensuring the longevity and accessibility of that information.