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:

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.

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 Center for Archaeology and Society 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


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.

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!

From ASU News, 7/16/2013

Mimbres pottery is one of the most treasured prehistoric ceramic traditions of North America. Named for the valley in southwestern New Mexico where its creators flourished around a thousand years ago, the striking black-on-white vessels are highly prized on the art market.

The bowls, which usually bear human or animal figures, are spread over the world in various museums and private collections, making it impossible for researchers – or simply interested individuals – to easily access the bulk of this work.

Until now.

Earlier this year, the Mimbres Pottery Images Digital Database (MimPIDD) debuted as part of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR).


David Plaza was awarded a 2012 Center for Digital Antiquity grant for his project entitled The Anasazi Origins Project Digital Archives Initiative (AOPDAI), designed to digitize and ingest into tDAR the associated records stored at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). The AOPDAI’s mission is to aggregate and digitize all data associated with the Anasazi Origins Project (AOP), and archive the data on platforms that are capable of easily sharing the results among researchers, professionals, and the interested public.

The AOP was led by Cynthia Irwin-Williams to investigate the antecedents of the Ancestral Puebloans (Oshara Tradition) in the Arroyo Cuervo Region of northwestern New Mexico. Irwin-Williams’ project was fundamental to illuminating the poorly understood Archaic period in the northern Southwest, and resulted in an enormous collection of artifacts, ecofacts, and contextual documents from its field campaigns.

tDAR aids in improving and disseminating this important collection by providing additional long term preservation services to aid in ensuring access to the AOP records in perpetuity.  Furthermore, tDAR’s data integration tools allow information from various components of ENMU’s AOP data sets to be easily synthesized for new analyses.

The AOPDAI uploads to tDAR is an effort to collect and migrate digitized data of the AOP from various parts of the country into a central location. At present, the AOPDAI on tDAR draws from several components of the AOP collection held at ENMU: publications, field maps, photographs, artifact spreadsheets, site records, and inventory sheets for notes. In addition, there is a data set of the site records from the AOP field campaigns organized using the laboratory site record format that can be used in spreadsheets or a Microsoft Access database. Plaza will continuously update this data set for the next two years as more lab work is completed and as additional records and artifacts are located and digitized. Additional planned uploads will include artifact catalogues describing the AOP collections housed at Eastern New Mexico University. Near future endeavors will consist of virtually reunifying components of this collection that exist at the National Anthropological Archives with those at ENMU and tDAR.

Scholars or curators with resources relevant to the Anasazi Origins Project and interested in contributing these resources to The Anasazi Origins Project Digital Archive Initiative should contact David Plaza at

Come visit Leigh Anne Ellison at the Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, in Mesa, Arizona later this week.  She will be on hand at The Center for Digital Antiquity/tDAR booth in the exhibitor’s hall on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Please stop by to learn more about what is new at tDAR, ask questions, or just say hi!


Attend a tDAR related session:

Managing Archaeological Information: The Central Arizona Project Legacy and Current Efforts

On Friday afternoon (3:10-4:00 PM, Fiesta Room), Keith Kintigh will moderate a panel session describing the Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix Area Office’s (PXAO) approach to curating the results of their public projects with tDAR.  Reclamation archaeologists and Digital Antiquity staff are making digital information and resources from Reclamation’s decades of archaeological studies for the Central Arizona Project widely available to researchers in Arizona and beyond.

These efforts have led the PXAO to upload the results of current investigations to tDAR for accessibility and long-term preservation. Panelists include Leigh Anne Ellison (The Center for Digital Antiquity), Jon Czaplicki (Bureau of Reclamation PXAO), Adam Ricks (Bureau of Reclamation PXAO), Robert Stokes (Archaeological Consulting Services, Inc.), Glen Rice (Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change), and Arleyn Simon (Director of the Archaeological Research Institute at Arizona State University) will consider the following developments and issues:

  • steps necessary for preparing and creating an accessible digital archive
  • challenges of providing appropriate access to archaeological data and shielding sensitive data selection of appropriate materials for a digital archive
  • steps for making digital archiving a part of your current workflow for ongoing and future projects

Each panelist will speak for a few minutes and the balance of the time will be utilized for discussion and questions.  We hope you can attend!


Cultural Resource Management in the 21st Century: Technological Applications in the Public and Private Sectors

Later on Friday afternoon (4:10-5:00 PM, Fiesta Room), Josh Watts, a former Digital Antiquity Data Curator will speak on a panel diwscussing the use of technological platforms in cultural resource management and its increased importance to archaeological consultants, architectural historians, land managers, and scholars in recent years. As technological capabilities have increased and the need for expedited transmission of digital data has become necessary, agencies, consultants, and the academic community have developed sophisticated methods for resource recordation, analysis, and management that were unavailable or impossible just a few years ago. This technological advancement is not without problems, however. Historians and archaeologists are increasingly encountering challenges with standardization and accessibility of data, software and hardware compatibility, digital standards, security, and other potential setbacks. This panel features three archaeologists who are currently confronting these problems through technological innovation including tDAR.