tDAR digital antiquity


“From Library to Laboratory: Developing Tools to Enhance the Use of Digital Archaeological and Other Humanities Collections.”

Congratulations to Michelle Hegmon (School of Human Evolution and Social Change,  Arizona State University) for her recently awarded grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, Promotion of the Humanities Program,  “From Library to Laboratory:  Developing Tools to Enhance the Use of Digital Archaeological and Other Humanities Collections.”  The award provides support for the development of tools that will allow online analysis and research of digital collections, especially those with images.  The testbed for the project is the Mimbres Pottery Images Digital Database (MimPIDD), a large collection of archaeological pottery images from the Mimbres region of the US Southwest that is contained in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record).

This new work will build on earlier developments that have made available and accessible many of the striking images from ancient Mimbres pottery through tDAR.  Assembled by Hegmon and colleague Steven LeBlanc (Harvard, retired), MimPIDD contains over 10,000 images of Mimbres ceramic vessels, among the most spectacular and renowned prehistoric pottery in North America. The Mimbres archaeological culture, concentrated in southwest New Mexico, is particularly noted for its stunning black-on-white style bowls, which were often decorated with naturalistic designs (especially ca. A.D. 1000-1130). MimPIDD images illustrate the painted designs on each vessel, along with associated descriptive information about archaeological context, temporal style, and vessel form and size. Numerous collections of Mimbres pottery vessels exist, scattered across many countries and dozens of museum and private collections. The dispersed nature of these collections makes it difficult to undertake comprehensive studies of Mimbres ceramics. The MimPIDD image collection and database brings together in one virtual place visual and descriptive information from many of these collections, allowing easy access to a wealth of disparate data.  The MimPIDD collection is one of the most popular in tDAR.  Tens of thousands of page views and hundreds of downloads of the public version of the database and individual images are recorded.

For the new project Hegmon will work with the Center for Digital Antiquity Director of Technology Adam Brin, DA Executive Director Frank McManamon, and ASU Libraries’ Mary Whelan.


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America