- Best Practices
- Common Issues / Problems
In a recently published paper in American Antiquity, Kintigh and colleagues describe an effort to identify “What are archaeology’s most important scientific challenges?” This question was posed to the archaeological community to crowd source key themes, and the results were used to inform and augment the topics developed by an esteemed group of scholars. The top 25 “grand challenges” they identified are replicated at the end of this post.
What the authors argue is most needed to address these important research questions is not more data (though, undoubtedly some new field work will be undertaken), but rather, a discipline-wide effort to locate, synthesize, and interpret the extensive amounts of data that have been collected through extensive archaeological efforts to date. tDAR’s data integration tools have been developed and refined with these tasks in mind, and the repository is capable of serving as a storage facility for the data and the supplementary information that support them.
Data sets archived in tDAR can include detailed column metadata describing the data so that researchers unfamiliar with the data set are still able to understand and reuse the data. Furthermore, multiple discrete data sets can be integrated into large, synthetic data sets using tDAR’s data integration tools. In addition, data sets in tDAR are afforded the myriad other benefits to being archived in tDAR—archaeologically specific metadata and long-term preservation with forward migration to ensure that data files are accessible and usable long into the future.
Get started today! Add your data sets to tDAR, find others, and begin synthetic analysis!
Archaeology’s Grand Challenges
Emergence, communities, and complexity
- How do leaders emerge, maintain themselves, and transform society?
- Why and how do social inequalities emerge, grow, persist, and diminish, and with what consequences?
- Why do market systems emerge, persist, evolve and, on occasion, fail?
- How does the organization of human communities at varying scales emerge from and constrain the actions of their members?
- How and why do small-scale human communities grow into spatially and demographically larger and politically more complex entities?
- How can systematic investigations of prehistoric and historic urban landscapes shed new light on the social and demographic processes that drive urbanism and its consequences?
- What is the role of conflict—both internal factional violence and external warfare—in the evolution of complex cultural formations?
Resilience, persistence, transformation, and collapse
- What factors have allowed for differential persistence of societies?
- What are the roles of social and environmental diversity and complexity in creating resilience and how do their impacts vary by social scale?
- Can we characterize social collapse or decline in a way that is applicable across cultures, and are there any warning signals that collapse or severe decline is near?
- How does ideology structure economic, political, and ritual systems?
Movement, mobility, and migration
- What processes led to, and resulted from, the global dispersal of modern humans?
- What are the relationships among environment, population dynamics, settlement structure, and human mobility?
- How do humans occupy extreme environments, and what cultural and biological adaptations emerged as a result?
- Why does migration occur and why do migrant groups maintain identities in some circumstances and adopt new ones in others?
Cognition, behavior, and identity
- What are the biophysical, sociocultural, and environmental interactions out of which modern human behavior emerged?
- How do people form identities, and what are the aggregate long-term and large-scale effects of these processes?
- How do spatial and material reconfigurations of landscapes and experiential fields affect societal development?
- How have human activities shaped Earth’s biological and physical systems, and when did humans become dominant drivers of these systems?
- What factors drive or constrain population growth in prehistory and history?
- What factors drive health and well-being in prehistory and history?
- Why do foragers engage in plant and animal management, and under what circumstances does management of a plant or animal lead to its domestication?
- Why do agricultural economies emerge, spread, and intensify, and what are the relationships among productive capacity, population, and innovation?
- How do humans respond to abrupt environmental change?
- How do humans perceive and react to changes in climate and the natural environment over short- and long-terms?
Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey Altschul, Mary Beaudry, Robert Drennan, Ann Kinzig, Timothy Kohler, W. Frederick Limp, Herbert Maschner, William Michener, Timothy Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy Sabloff, Tony Wilkinson, Henry Wright and Melinda Zeder
(2014) Grand Challenges for Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(1):5-24.
Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey H. Altschul, Mary C. Beaudry, Robert D. Drennan, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy A. Kohler, W. Frederick Limp, Herbert D. G. Maschner, William K. Michener, Timothy R. Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Tony J. Wilkinson, Henry T. Wright and Melinda A. Zeder
(2014) Grand Challenges for Archaeology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 122:879-880.
A January 16th blog post on AWOL – The Ancient World Online – has highlighted the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collection in tDAR. This collection includes supplementary information associated with a number of their print publications. The geographic and cultural range covered is quite vast—from the South Pacific to Mongolia to Eastern Crete! Datasets, images, and documents from these projects and many more are available to download in tDAR now.
The National Park Service December 2013 Archeology E-Gram directs interested readers to tDAR to view resources related to the Antiquities Act. tDAR has over 40 publicly available resources related to this important preservation law.
Angela Huster used her tDAR credits earned as part of her SAA student member benefit to publish data associated with her recent article entitled Assessing Systematic Bias in Museum Collections: A Case Study of Spindle Whorls in Advances in Archaeological Practice: A Journal of the Society for American Archaeology. If you have data in tDAR associated with a published article let us know!
Student members of the Society for American Archaeology are eligible to upload three files (up to 30MB) to tDAR annually as part of their membership benefits. If you were a student member in 2013, email email@example.com to receive your voucher today, then visit tDAR to upload your files and create metadata. New and renewing student members will be eligible for new vouchers in 2014, but your 2013 vouchers must be redeemed in tDAR by January 31, 2014. Archive conference papers, raw data used in the analysis of your master’s thesis, dissertation, an article or class paper, important images related to your research, field notes, final reports, or lesson plans—check out our website for even more ideas. tDAR is a flexible platform for your archiving needs! Need suggestions or help completing your upload? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 looks like it’s going to be a great year, we’re already hard at work preparing tDAR for new software features, and working with clients to upload documents, data sets and images into tDAR. tDAR grew quite a bit in 2013, we had two major software updates (in situ, and jar) including: a new face for tDAR, we added the ability to upload geospatial data into tDAR, and added new features such as enhancing the creator pages in tDAR to include related keywords and collaborators among many others.
Almost 10,000 new items were added to tDAR in 2013 including GIS data from Tikal, a large collection of images of Mimbres Ceramics, and reports from the Permian Basin, the Anasazi Origins Project, Colonial Mobile, Dyess Air Force Base, and CRM Reports from Brockington & Associates, Hartgen Archaeological Associates, and PaleoResearch Institute.
While we do not maintain detailed statistics on users or use to protect user and contributor privacy, we can share some interesting aggregate data. Below are the most frequently viewed and downloaded resources.
- Tikal Report 11: Map of the Ruins of Tikal, El Petén, Guatemala and Georeferenced Versions of the Maps Therein
- Style III (Bowl)
- Utility (vessel)
- “Style II, Style III” (Bowl)
- Style III (Bowl)
- Style III (Bowl)
- Style III (Bowl)
- Vanoli Project
- Beyond the North Gate: Archeology on the Outskirts of Colonial Albany. Archeological Data Retrieval, Quackenbush Square Parking Facility, Broadway, Albany, New York
- Tikal Report 11: Map of the Ruins of Tikal, El Petén, Guatemala
- Archaeological Data Recovery at Riverfront Village (38AK933): A Mississippian/Contact Period Occupation
- Style III (Bowl)
- Ethics and Permission to Access MimPIDD
- The CityScape Project: Archaeological Investigations of Pueblo Patricio and Block 22 in the Original Phoenix Townsite Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona
- Tikal Report 11: Georeferenced Map- “Ruins of Tikal” (with border)
- Archaeological Data Recovery at Colleton River Plantation (38BU647) Beaufort County, South Carolina: A Study of an Early Nineteenth Century Slave Settlement
- Formative Settlements on the Pinaleno Mountains Bajada: Results of Phased Archaeological Treatment of Sites AZ CC:6:40 and AZ CC:6:43 (ASM) within the U.S. Highway 191 Right-of-Way between Mileposts 110.40 and 117.60 south of Safford, Graham County, Arizona
- Relocation of a Portion of Hampstead Cemetery, 46 Reid Street, Charleston, South Carolina
- Tikal Report 11: Georeferenced Map- “Ruins of Tikal” (without border)
- Style III (Bowl)
Site Type Keywords (Most Used)
Culture Keywords (Most Used)
Material Keywords (Most Used)
People (Most Used)
Institutions (Most Used)
- Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab
- South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina
- Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc.
- Internet Archaeology
- Brown University
- USDI Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix Area Office
- University of South Alabama Center for Archaeological Studies
- Brockington and Associates, Inc.
- Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina
- Brockington and Associates, Inc.
One hundred seven years ago this week, on 8 December 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt designated two archaeological sites as National Monuments. Montezuma Castle in Arizona and El Morro in New Mexico were among the first properties set aside for special preservation by Roosevelt using the authority given to the president by Section 2 of the then-new Antiquities Act. During his second term as president, Roosevelt would designate 18 National Monuments, encompassing over 1.5 million acres. Among the other properties he proclaimed as Monuments are the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Muir Woods (California), Olympic (Washington), Lassen Peak (California), Tonto (Arizona), Natural Bridges (Utah), and Tumacacori (Arizona).
Interested individuals can learn more about the Antiquities Act, how this important national law has been used by Roosevelt and subsequent US presidents to preserve important cultural and natural resources and its importance to the historical development of archaeology from information available in a tDAR collection on these topics.
What are data papers? Data papers are a new type of publication that combine a narrative short paper and a data set (such as lithic artifact attributes, chemical/physical components of a set of pottery sherds, or a faunal data). Like more standard journal publications, data papers can be peer reviewed. The short text describes the data set, its contents, and methods for collection as well as guidelines its use and potential for re-use.
Publishing data sets is a new way to publicize and share your work that is still novel in the sciences. Now there are two archaeological journals leading the way: Internet Archaeology and the Journal of Open Archaeology Data (JOAD). Both journals are peer-reviewed and publish data papers so that they are openly accessible online. Importantly, both journals list tDAR as a trusted repositories where authors can submit their data sets to ensure their long-term accessibility and preservation.
The move towards publishing data sets is an important for archaeological development. Archaeological projects typically do not move digital data into repositories where they are accessible and securely stored. Additionally, few institutions provide proper digital curation, such as archaeology specific metadata, which assures long term preservation for future uses. tDAR couples domain specific knowledge with solid digital preservation practice to provide a place for archaeologists to store and share their research, including datasets.
For more information on submitting a data paper to Internet Archaeology, visit their information page. For an example of a data paper in Internet Archaeology, have a look at Wynee-Jones and Fleisher’s paper Ceramics and Society: Early Tana Tradition and the Swahili Coast.
For more information on submitting a data paper to JOAD, visit their submission page. (The page also includes a great graphic representation of the publishing process). For an example of the data papers published in JOAD, you may want to have a look at Andrew Pearson’s Dataset to accompany the excavation report for a ‘liberated African’ graveyard in Rupert’s Valley, St Helena, South Atlantic.
At the beginning of October, I attended the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) annual conference in Washington, DC on behalf of the Center for Digital Antiquity. Digital Antiquity is an associate member of ACRA and was one of the vendors at the conference. Despite the federal government shutdown, the conference was informative, well-organized, and useful. There were discussions about coordinating actions to meet the demands for effective cultural resource management (CRM) involvement in energy development undertakings, dealing with copyright and intellectual property issues, and a variety of other matters.
One recurring topic in discussions with representatives of several CRM firms was the challenge they face to ensure long-term access to and preservation of the many reports, papers, data sets, and other professional products they and their firms have created over the years. Of course, I was responsive to their common dilemma and pointed out that meeting this challenge is something that tDAR is designed to do. tDAR provides an economical solution for archiving and managing access to digital archaeological documents and data that are these firms’ legacies.
This is not a new topic at ACRA meetings and it is likely to continue to be of interest. The task of preserving and making decades worth of archaeological research results accessible is one faced by many CRM firms. At present, it may be felt most acutely in those independently owned firms whose leadership (in many cases the founders of the firms) will retire soon.
This situation also affects professional archaeologists whose careers have been in public agencies that fund archaeological investigations or manage archaeological resources. Many of the senior archaeologists in public agencies also are coming up on retirement time. Managers in these agencies have legal obligations to ensure the accessibility and preservation of data and information about the archaeological resources they manage or that their actions have affected. However, these obligations sometimes are not met effectively or fully by the agencies. When an agency does not provide for long-term preservation and access, the individual professionals may feel compelled to find other means of doing so. Here too, tDAR can provide the solution.
Access and preservation of archaeological reports, data sets, images, and many other kinds of information are the primary goals of the Center for Digital Antiquity. Using tDAR enables individuals and organizations to preserve for future access and use the archaeological legacy of a generation of archaeologists and organizations who have built CRM as an essential part of the discipline.
Some of these legacies have already been contributed to tDAR. In most cases, these legacies are now available easily and broadly. For example, readers might want to check the following tDAR collections and projects:
- The Central Arizona Project by the Phoenix Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation
- The PaleoResearch Institute created by Linda Scott Cummings and her staff
- The Archaeology of Albany created by the staff of Hartgen Archeological Associates
- Brockington and Associates created by the staff of Brockington and Associates, highlighting their data recovery reports from Georgia and SC
- Casa Grande Ruins Compound A and Casa Grande Great House Preservation digital archive by Casa Grande NM
- Cape Cod Archaeology by Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
- The Dolores Archaeology Program created by Tim Kohler and his students at Washington State University with the assistance of the Bureau of Reclamation
- Mohawk Valley (NY) Archaeology created by Dean Snow and his students at Penn State
At Digital Antiquity we encourage more CRM firms and public agency offices to build CRM legacy collections in tDAR and are glad to work with those that may be interested in doing so. If you are interested in building CRM legacy collections with tDAR please visit http://www.tdar.org/why-
Several resource documentation and survey reports from the Deer Valley Rock Art Center (DVRAC), an educational, interpretive, and research center at Arizona State University (ASU), are now available on tDAR. These documents are organized in the Deer Valley Rock Art Center Digital Collection within the repository.
The reports describe the rock art now interpreted at the Center and the archaeological investigations that led to DVRAC’s founding in 1994. Paper copies of the reports and other archives, as well as its research library, are now housed at Archaeological Research Institute also at ASU. In an effort to both preserve these documents and make them more accessible to rock art researchers, a portion of these records are now available on tDAR.
Currently, the majority of the DVRAC tDAR collection consists of survey and excavation reports related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Adobe Dam Project and New River Dam Project. These include a total of four technical reports on the Adobe Dam site, the Hedgpeth Hills site, and the New River Archaeological Survey, as well as two non-technical reports on the Adobe Dam site and the Hedgpeth Hills site.
The Hedgpeth Hills Rock Art Recording and Investigations project contains documents relating to the rock art recording and investigations that were conducted by J. Simon Bruder during the early 1980s. The documents associated with this project include a synthesis report of fieldwork, field maps of the Hedgpeth Hills, and locality record sheets for each rock art panel.
If you are interested in contributing information about rock art in your research area to tDAR please visit http://www.tdar.org/why-tdar/contribute/.
Regular updates to the tDAR software comprise an integral part of Digital Antiquity’s commitment to digital archaeological data preservation. The Jar release of tDAR (Summer 2013) includes over 250 bug fixes and feature enhancements, including following primary components:
New Resource Type for Geospatial Data:
Significant work was done to support geospatial data within tDAR. Geospatial data within tDAR is now treated like a data set ensuring that all data stored within the data set is properly documented. tDAR now includes support for the following types of geospatial data via a new "resource type":
- Personal Geodatabases
- Georectified images including GeoTIFFs and GeoJPGs
Updated Person and Institution Pages:
- Besides allowing users to update their personal information (names, email, description); tDAR now leverages the resources a person is associated with to create a list of related keywords, people, and institutions (eg: James Schoenwetter or Bureau of Land Management).
Resource Pages in General:
- A completely updated file-replace process. It is now much easier to replace existing files, simply click the replace button and upload the replacement.
- The Authorized User section has been redesigned to simplify entry.
- A "download all" button has been added to allow users to download all files associated with a resource (if they have appropriate permissions).
- Each file associated with a resource now allows for a description and creation date to be entered.
- The Image Gallery was updated (eg: Berbati Ceramics: Photographs).
- A new file information table was added at the bottom of each resource to display the descriptions and other information associated with each file.
- If a file is marked as confidential, tDAR now requires a contact to be entered to help other users in case they want to access the file.
Updated Data Set Pages:
- A unique page is now generated for each record or row in a data set, which users can see when logged-in to tDAR.
- When mapping columns in tDAR, the list of columns is displayed 10 columns at a time instead of all columns for a data table.
- The data set edit page now has the improved file "upload" section used by other resource types.
Updated Ontology Pages:
Ontologies in tDAR allow users to aggregate and relate terms within a data set together to help with data integration.
- The Ontology viewer has been enhanced to display ontologies more compactly (e.g., TAG Eastern US Fauna Taxon).
- Each entry or "node" in an ontology is give its own dedicated page showing which data sets use it, synonyms and other information (e.g., TAG Age Ontology Node: Adult).
- Collection pages now show their child collections in the sidebar for easier navigation (e.g., Midwest Archaeological Center Publications).
- Users can now limit collection contents by resource type.
- Better navigation was added to the collection edit page.
- The user dashboard was updated to make information more accessible (especially on tablet or computers with smaller screens).
- Users can now limit project contents by resource type.
- Users are now warned when uploading images with embedded Lat/Long data that data is being uploaded as well.
- The "explore tDAR" page now shows usage counts for keywords.
- Searching using the map will now display the results on a map (e.g., search in Mediterranean).
- Users can now change how many results to show on a page.
- A fourth "condensed view" of the results is now available that just shows the title (e.g., search for "Tikal").
- Searching for a multi-word phrase eg: "shell midden" now searches for both "shell" and "midden". It also includes results for "shell" or "midden" at a lower relevancy ranking (this mimics what web search engines often do).
Other Technical Functionality:
- Our RSS feed now shows GeoRSS bounding boxes for records that do not have confidential files or would not be otherwise obfuscated due to precision.
- Editorial tools were added to help with authority management of people, institutions, and keywords.
- We've added additional parameters to tDAR's OpenSearch Description including Lat/Long and Resource Type.
- There is now support for schema.org RDF encoding for resources, people, and institutions on appropriate pages.
- Publishing of related creator and keyword information via Friend of a Friend (FOAF) is now supported.
- Search engine sitemaps are being generated.