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.

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 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.

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.

SAA and Digital Antiquity are pleased to announce a collaborative program to focus increased attention on the curation of digital data from archaeological projects.  As part of a four year, non-exclusive cooperative agreement SAA will provide material support to Digital Antiquity and its digital repository, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) of $5k/annum, and work with Digital Antiquity to encourage all archaeologists and organizations that conduct or require archaeological investigations to deposit well-documented digital records in tDAR or other digital repositories that ensure long term preservation and appropriate access.  SAA and Digital Antiquity share a commitment to the long-term preservation of digital records and to making these collections. In order to encourage students to properly curate the digital records they produce, Digital Antiquity will provide every SAA student member free uploads of 3 files with up to 30MB of data per year for the next four years.  This valuable student-member benefit allows all student members records broadly discoverable and accessible, with appropriate safeguards for sensitive information.

SAA and Digital Antiquity both seek to develop in students a strong ethic of stewardship, including responsible curation of both physical and digital of SAA to practice responsible preservation.

The Center for Digital Antiquity (Digital Antiquity; http://www.digitalantiquity.org/)  is a multi-institutional organization established to ensure the long-term preservation and effective access to and use of archaeological information.  Digital Antiquity developed, maintains, and operates tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record; http://tdar.org), an international repository of the digital records related to archaeological investigations and resources. tDAR provides online discovery and access as well as long-term preservation for tens of thousands of archaeological documents, data sets, and images. Digital Antiquity is currently housed at Arizona State University and is governed by an independent Board of Directors and supported by an external Professional Advisory Panel.   

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA; http://www.saa.org/) is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas. With more than 7,000 members, the SAA represents professional, student, and avocational archaeologists working in a variety of settings including government agencies, colleges and universities, museums and the private sector.  The SAA’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics has specifically established the preservation and curation of objects and records, both non-digital and digital, as an ethical obligation of all archaeologists and works hard to uphold that obligation among its members.

Beyond this partnership, both Digital Antiquity and SAA welcome opportunities to work with other organizations to advance these important goals of fostering and improving digital data curation in archaeology.

A copy of the joint statement can be viewed here.

A new report concludes that current archaeological, historic preservation, and records management laws and regulations require that digital archaeological data generated by federal agencies must be deposited in an appropriate digital repository.  Such repositories will provide long-term preservation and accessibility of digital files to qualified users.  Importantly, the laws and regulations cited in the report require the protection of digital archaeological records from destruction or deterioration, including from technological obsolescence. 

The report was prepared by Cultural Heritage Partners (CHP), a Washington, D.C.-based law and government affairs firm with experience in cultural resource management and cultural heritage issues.  CHP cites relevant requirements in the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the regulations regarding curation of archaeological collections and associated records promulgated pursuant to those statutes (36 C.F.R. 79), and the regulations promulgated by the National Archives and Records Administration (36 C.F.R. 1220.1-1220.20) that apply to all federal agencies.

These legal findings highlight the need for services like the Digital Archaeological Record  (tDAR), an online repository managed by The Center for Digital Antiquity where digital archaeological data are properly accessible, stored, preserved and protected as legally mandated.  The full report can be downloaded here

Arizona State University retained CHP to conduct the analysis.

The Center for Digital Antiquity and ADS are proud to announce the print publication of Caring for Digital Data in Archaeology: A Guide to Good Practice. This new volume is the culmination of three years of work to update the Guides to Good Practice to cover a wider range of archaeological data and to refresh the content with up-to-date information. Based on the web version of the Guides to Good PracticeCaring for Digital Data in Archaeology provides an overview of the challenges to digital archiving and practical guidance for more common materials. The print version is intended to be used in concert with the online site which will be maintained with up-to-date information and provide more depth of content.

Caring for Digital Data in Archaeology is separated into three primary sections:

  1. Digital Archiving: An Introduction to this Guide focuses on the need for digital archiving through the use of two case studies as well as how to best use the guides.
  2. Planning for the Creation of Digital Data outlines issues surrounding data creation and capture, selecting data for digital archiving, documentation and metadata, as well as issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property rights.
  3. Common Digital Objects, the final section, outlines best practices specific to documents, data sets, and images. Each section covers which formats are archival, and specific issues related to each file format or type.

Copies can be pre-ordered online at: http://www.oxbowbooks.com/dbbc/caring-for-digital-data-in-archaeology.html

We are pleased to announce that the Mimbres Pottery Images Digital Database is now available in tDAR.  The deposit of these digital files in tDAR was made possible with funding provided by the Mimbres Foundation.

The database contains a collection of over 9,000 images of Mimbres ceramic vessels, among the most spectacular and renowned prehistoric pottery in North America. The Mimbres archaeological culture is particularly noted for its stunning black-on-white style bowls, which were often decorated with naturalistic designs.  The collection’s digital images document the painted designs on each vessel, along with associated descriptive information about the archaeological context, temporal style, and vessel form and size. You can browse the public Mimbres vessel collection here:http://core.tdar.org/project/377852.  Be sure to register with tDAR (it’s easy and free) to see the images and associated database information. 

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 image collection and database brings together visual and descriptive information from many of these collections, allowing easy access to a wealth of data. Created by Harvard Peabody Museum Curator Steven LeBlanc and Arizona State University Professor Michelle Hegmon, the extensive database contains images and data from more than 70 collections and over 80 archaeological sites. 

Regular updates to the tDAR software comprise an integral part of Digital Antiquity’s commitment to digital archaeological data preservation. The “in situ” release of tDAR (Winter 2012) includes the following primary components:

New End-User Interface & Discovery Tools

  • We worked with the team at Fervor Creative to completely redesign the end-user interface. We hope you find it easier to use.
  • We've added a "Grid" view and Map view to search results, projects, and collections to allow you to view or organize your materials more visually
  • You can now search for people and institutions
  • We've added new icons for each of the tDAR resource types
  • We've added (this) blog to the tDAR homepage
  • We've added new fields to search by including filenames

Updated Resource Editing pages

  • We've consolidated bookmarks onto the dashboard to make them easier to access
  • We've updated the resource edit pages with a cleaner look and feel, better data validation, and error reporting.  These include:
    • A navigation bar that displays where you are on the page with easy access to jump to different parts or to save
    • Document or Dataset creators can be more easily entered
    • Enhanced inheritance tools
    • A re-designed google maps interface making it easier to edit maps
  • An improved bulk upload form with a better template, and pre-validation of the template before starting the bulk upload
  • A new Editing permission that allows users to edit resource metadata only without the ability to add or modify files


  • A redesigned data api for adding resources to tDAR
  • Enhanced security SSL by requiring user login via SSL

We have wonderful things planned for tDAR in 2013, from an updated look and feel to the tDAR application, to a number of exciting new software features.  But, as we start out 2013, it’s interesting to take a look at how tDAR has changed and evolved in 2012.  2012 was a big year for tDAR and Digital Antiquity and we’re grateful to you for being part of it.  2012 included Digital Antiquity receiving a second grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Center’s operation and development by expanding the content of tDAR, enlarging the community of users, and continuing to develop and enhance tDAR’s software.  We received an important endorsement from the American Anthropological Association.  We were also awarded a CLIR fellowship to fund a postdoctoral candidate in association with ASU Libraries.

The tDAR software underwent two major updates this year: Grid and Harris.  Combined, these updates significantly enhanced the search and discovery functionality for tDAR, and have improved the interface for data integration and data entry. The repository also underwent considerable growth.  Our contributors have added over 5,000 new documents, data sets, images, and other resource types for a total number of records now exceeding 373,000.


The repository is now over 180GB is in size, and has literally doubled in size over the course of the last year.



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 Frequently Viewed Resources

  1. Aztec West Ruin: Perishable Artifacts and Pottery from Excavations by the American Museum of Natural History
  2. Aztec West Ruin: Composite Wall Elevations from Pre-Backfilling Architectural Photo-Documentation
  3. Prehistoric Irrigation in Arizona: Symposium 1988
  4. Spitalfields Project
  5. The Archaeological Survey of Cape Cod National Seashore
  6. Phoenix Basin Archaeology: Intersections, Pathways Through Time
  7. The Archaeology of Highland Chiriqui, Panama
  8. The Archaeology of African Burial Ground National Monument, New York
  9. Jordan’s Journey (44PG302)
  10. Cultural Resources Survey of a Proposed Well-Pad (IPB LWN 10) in Kisatchie National Forest (Catahoula Distict), Winn Parish, Louisiana

Most Popular Downloads

  1. Archaeology of the Pueblo Grande Platform and Surrounding Features Volume 2 Features in the Central Precinct of the Pueblo Grande Community
  2. A Century of Archeological Research at Mesa Verde National Park
  3. 1947-1948 CDF Aerial Photos Master Index Map
  4. Survey and Excavations in Joshua Tree National Monument: Report of the 1985 Joshua Tree Road Improvements Project
  5. Archeological Investigations at Joshua Tree National Park, California
  6. Archaeological Excavations at Jordan’s Point: Sites 44PG151, 44PG300, 44PG302, 44PG303, 44PG315, 44PG333
  7. Vanishing River Volume 1: Part 1, Scorpion Point Village: Chapters 1 – 4
  8. Archeological Survey and Site Testing for the Joshua Tree Roads Project, Package 291, Joshua Tree National Park, California
  9. The Fort Mountain Archaeological Project, Volume 1: Archaeological Investigations at Five Prehistoric Sites Near the Base of Fort Mountain in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona
  10. An Ahupua’a Study: The 1971 Archaeological Work at Kaloko Ahupua’a North Kona, Hawai’i: Archaeology at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Metadata Statistics

These are the most popular people, places, sites, and other keyword data used to describe tDAR records in the last year.

Culture Keywords

  1. Historic
  2. Archaic
  3. Ancestral Puebloan
  4. Euroamerican
  5. Mogollon
  6. Hohokam
  7. Woodland
  8. PaleoIndian
  9. Mimbres
  10. Fremont

Investigation Types

  1. Data Recovery / Excavation
  2. Archaeological Overview
  3. Heritage Management
  4. Systematic Survey
  5. Site Evaluation / Testing
  6. Architectural Documentation
  7. Reconnaissance / Survey
  8. Collections Research
  9. Site Stabilization
  10. Methodology, Theory, or Synthesis

Geographic Keywords

  1. Kuril Islands
  2. Rio Grande River
  3. Palomas Drainage
  4. Southwest New Mexico
  5. Eastern Mimbres
  6. Animas Drainage
  7. Seco Drainage
  8. Central Arizona
  9. California
  10. Southern California

Material Types

  1. Pollen
  2. Macrobotanical
  3. Ceramic
  4. Wood
  5. Chipped Stone
  6. Ground Stone
  7. Fauna
  8. Building Materials
  9. Dating Sample
  10. Shell

Site Name Keywords

  1. Vodopadnaya 2
  2. Drobnyye
  3. Ryponkicha
  4. Ekarma
  5. AZ U:15:61 (ASM)
  6. Ainu Bay 1/2
  7. AZ U:15:59 (ASM)
  8. Flying Fish – LA 37767
  9. Rasshua
  10. AZ U:10:6 (ASM)

Site Type Keywords

  1. Domestic Structure or Architectural Complex
  2. Domestic Structures
  3. Settlements
  4. Archaeological Feature
  5. Artifact Scatter
  6. Funerary and Burial Structures or Features
  7. Non-Domestic Structures
  8. Resource Extraction/Production/Transportation Structure or Features
  9. Hamlet / village
  10. Hearth

General Keywords

  1. Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, NM
  2. Aztec West Ruin
  3. Macrofloral Analysis
  4. Perishable Artifacts
  5. Pollen Analysis
  6. Masonry Roomblock
  7. Masonry Architecture
  8. Masonry Pueblos
  9. Architecture Analysis
  10. Architectural Assessment

People or Institutions Referenced within tDAR Records

  1. Kathryn Puseman
  2. Linda Scott Cummings
  3. R.A. Varney
  4. Gary Brown
  5. Lori Reed
  6. Laurie Webster
  7. Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, NM
  8. Anne Grulich
  9. Chad Yost
  10. Joel Gamache

Add your files to tDAR today, and look for them on our most popular list of 2013.   We wish you a prosperous and healthful new year!