During the summer of 2010, staff at Digital Antiquity added over two hundred new digital documents to the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) repository.  These documents, plus others contributed by registered users, has increased the number of documents available in tDAR to over 630.

Included in the repository are archaeological overviews, survey reports, detailed excavation and artifact analysis reports, as well as historical documents and studies related to archaeological resources.  The documents cover research on both ancient and historic period archaeological resources and are international in geographic scope.  Readers are encouraged to explore the tDAR repository using the Search function to see the variety of documents and data sets available to tDAR users.

Among the new entries is a report series of over 100 documents, Publications in Anthropology, published by the National Park Service’s Western Archeological and Conservation Center between 1975 and 2008.  These reports range from 3 to 852 pages, with most reports ranging between 200 and 400 pages.  The repository now contains many interesting and informative studies in this series, among them are:

These reports are only a few among the hundreds of documents about American archaeology that users can find in the tDAR repository.

Digital Antiquity continuously works to update tDAR software as a part of its mission to improve digital data preservation and storage. The Cadaster Release, from Winter 2010-2011, focused primarily on supporting the ingest of National Archaeological Database (NADB) metadata as well as enhancement of existing user workflows. Increasing usability is a crucial method to improving the overall efficiency of data entry and management. Key changes to the software include:

  • Previously, the relationship between a record and the project it was filed into required the record to automatically copy all of the data from the project to each record in that project.  With this release, this action is now both explicit, and optional, allowing selective “inheritance” section-by-section within a tDAR record.  Added support for institutional authorship in addition to the existing personal authorship
  • Added the ability to record notes and identifiers (such as contract number) to the schema and data entry forms
  • Redesigned the search results display to allow for easier review of records and to enable sorting
  • Enabled tDAR to make better use of geospatial data specified by the user including automatic assignment of geographic keywords based on the site coordinates specified
  • Developed tools and infrastructure to bulk import XML records into tDAR
  • Added visualization tool for ontologies
  • Introduced display of thumbnails for PDFs and images stored within tDAR
  • Enabled easy replacement of Datasets, Ontologies, and Coding Sheets within tDAR without forcing the user to entirely remap data records
  • Enhanced keyword searching to index and search general terms as well as specific ones, i.e., “Paleo-Indian” would be indexed in addition to the terms “Clovis” or “Folsom”.
  • Support for synonyms and Display Labels in tDAR ontologies
  • Significant performance enhancements throughout the system using NADB metadata records to test
  • Support for the TAG (Transatlantic Archaeological Gateway), a SOAP-based interface used by the UK Archaeological Data Service (ADS) released in Beta form

Digital Antiquity is continually committed to improving digital archaeological data preservation. The Balk release of tDAR (Fall 2010) was focused on file storage and management.  It was designed primarily around the need to store and manage images within the tDAR repository. Improvements and additions to the software include:

  • Migrated the internal filestore to a PairTree model (based on the CDL spec).  This model allows for a clear organization of the tDAR file-store and grouping of related materials.
  • Enabled versioning of files within tDAR
  • Migrated deleted records from actual deletion to a “flag” to allow for preservation of files and metadata for deleted items; also enabled the ability to save records in draft form before publishing.
  • Enabled a generic file processing workflow that supports handling of archival, working, and temporary files
  • Used above infrastructure to develop support for processing images within tDAR
  • Enabled searching within the contents of PDFs
  • Added support for processing files on a separate server, if needed
  • Redesigned the user’s main page within tDAR to list recent actions
  • Enhanced searching to support multi-lingual terms
  • Redesigned the main tDAR page to show a map of records, as well as a graph of records by type
  • Redesigned the data-integration process to simplify common user workflows
  • Performed a review of the support of embargoed and confidential data, added additional enhancements including the automatic obfuscation of site coordinates that may be too specific
  • Implemented additional auto-complete services throughout the integration process to improve performance and simplify data entry.

Archaeology Data Services in the UK and Digtial Antiquity in the US are collaborating to update and broaden the pioneer set of guidelines created by ADS and in use for over a decade.  The guides describe good practices regarding the creation, preservation, and sharing of digital archaeological files.

Drafts of the revised guides are available for review and comment and interested readers are encouraged to do so.  The comment period will end on 15 November, so don’t delay!

Updating Guides to Good Practice

Listen to an interview with Keith Kintigh, one of the developers of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) and Frank McManamon, Executive Director of Digital Antiquity.  Originally broadcast on the Library Channel Kintigh and McManamon describe the background and plans of this effort to expand the access to archaeological data and ensure its long-term preservation.

Listen now