tDAR digital antiquity

tDAR in the News

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!


SAA Student Members—Take Advantage of Your Member Benefit with tDAR today!

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 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



Taking a look back at tDAR in 2013

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 MobileDyess Air Force Base, and CRM Reports from Brockington & AssociatesHartgen Archaeological Associates, and PaleoResearch Institute



The repository now archives almost 600 GB  of content, nearly triple the size of the archive in 2012.

Usage Statistics

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.

Most Viewed

Most Downloaded

Antiquities Act Anniversary and tDAR

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.

Get Credit for Your Data: Publishing Peer-reviewed Data Papers with tDAR

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.

Bolstering Individual and Organization Legacies

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:

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 for more information.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center Digital Collection (New Resource Profile)

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


tDAR Software Update (Jar)

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":

  • ​​Shapefiles
  • 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:

  • 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.

General Updates:

  • 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 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.

More Data and Information Related to Archaeology Articles Can Be Found in tDAR

The current issue of Archaeology magazine (September/October 2013), includes two articles related to collections of archaeological data and other information in tDAR. 

One of the articles, “An Extreme Life” by Victoria Schlesinger, describes a long-term archaeological project by Ben Fitzhugh of the University of Washington to study the adaptation and 7,000 year history of human populations that once lived on the Kuril Islands, an 800-mile-long chain extending north from the island of Hokkaido in Japan to the Kamchataka Peninsula in Russia.

More detailed information about Fitzhugh’s project can be found in tDAR, where it is mainly accessable and available to other tDAR users.  The Kuril Biocomplexity Project Archive (NSF 0508109) and Kuril Biocomplexity Research Collection contain a rich record of the archaeological research and sites on the Kuril Islands, including over 130 reports, sets of photos, and maps.

Fitzhugh’s Kuril project is part of a larger network of research projects, the Global Human Ecodynamics Alliance (GHEA), which is using tDAR as a means of sharing research data and other results among the cooperating projects and with the wider world.  GHEA is an organization of social scientists, natural scientists, historians, educators, students, policy makers, and others interested in promoting cutting-edge research, education, and application of the socioecological dynamics of coupled human and natural systems across scales of space and time.  The research coordination is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs Science.   

Andrew Lawler’s article, “The Everlasting City” reviews past and current interpretations early urbanism in what is now southern Iraq.  Lawler mentions current research by Jennifer Pournelle of the University of South Carolina aimed at understanding how climate change and shifting river systems impacted early Sumerian civilization.  Pournelle also has set up and is building in tDAR a collection of documents and other information titled, “Ancient Civilizations: Mesopotamia."  The collection, which is growing, is designed to include resources for exploring the foundation, growth, and persistence of the long history of "Mesopotamia" (literally, "between the rivers") – the lands watered by the Tigris and Euphrates.

We are delighted that tDAR provides these research projects with a digital repository where their data can be managed, made accessible (as appropriate), and preserved for future use.  To get started using tDAR to manage your own digital archaeological information, please visit today!

Digital Antiquity Participates in “A Day of Archaeology”

On Friday, hundreds of archaeologists participated in "A Day of Archaeology", an annual event in which archaeologists engaged in a truly wide range of archaeological activities from around the world write about their daily work.  Follow the links to read about our day or check in with former DA intern Russell who contributed to the project here.