The Center for Digital Antiquity has a new Digital Curator position open and we invite qualified applicants to apply. The position of Digital Curator plays a vital role within our organization. Not limited to one specific function, we seek a well-organized, knowledgeable person who will provide services to clients, including drafting administrative and substantive metadata for digital files to be deposited in tDAR, recommending and carrying out redaction for confidential or sensitive data in files, assisting in the planning of digital collections within tDAR for clients, and other services. 

This person will also assist in the Center for Digital Antiquity’s development, improvement and maintenance of tDAR digital repository. This will involve work on project documentation, cleaning up existing data and entering new data/documents. Digital curators are also involved in creating instructional text and web pages to improve information for tDAR users.

To learn more and to apply, visit the Arizona State University employment website. Applications will be accepted through September 15, 2015.

Recently over 200 reports of archaeological investigations in South Carolina were added to tDAR by the Office of the State Archaeologist, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA).  Dr. Jonathan Leader and several of his students created a tDAR collection that is organized to hold all the archaeological grey literature and related data for South Carolina from the last 50 years. Within the statewide collection, reports are organized by county with the majority of reports so far included from Aiken, Charleston, and Beaufort counties, but other reports from around the state also can be found.  The plan is to build content using this geographic framework.

Leader and his team have uploaded both complete reports, for which access can be requested by contacting his office, and redacted versions of the reports.  The latter are available through tDAR to registered tDAR users.

This project, enabling easier access to archaeological information, is expected to alleviate a large number of time-consuming requests.  The intent is to provide a major research tool for people conducing archaeological work and historical research in South Carolina and the adjacent states. Numerous groups and teams of people will benefit from these available records including, researchers, land stewards, county planners, agency staff (state, local federal), non-profits, tribal archaeology and preservation organizations, educators, and interested members of the public.

The Center for Digital Antiquity is pleased to have worked with the  Office of the State Archaeologist on this use of tDAR to provide a means of managing South Carolina’s archaeological data. We look forward to collaborating on additional future projects with SCIAA and other State Archaeologist offices and SHPOs.

Excitement is in the air at Arizona State University as graduation is upon us. One of our very own, Mike Karam, will receive his Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from ASU today. The staff at The Center for Digital Antiquity has been fortunate to work with Mike, an undergraduate Research Apprentice, since August 2014. He excelled in his work on improving the content of archaeological data in tDAR, specifically improving access and preserving legacy data from the Dolores Archaeological Program. Mike also updated over 30 other digital files and metadata records within tDAR. He greatly enhanced the content of tDAR and provided other tDAR users with more detailed information about important archaeological investigations. Congratulations, to Mike and his family, from all of us at The Center for Digital Antiquity!

Archaeologist, Glen Rice, emeritus professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University and former director of ASU’s Office of Cultural Resource Management, has been awarded the 2014 Don D. and Catherine S. Fowler Prize for his  forthcoming book, Sending the Spirits Home: The Archaeology of Hohokam Mortuary Practices, to be published by the University of Utah Press. The honor acknowledges “substantive research and quality writing [that] focus on the human experience in the American West.”  Some of the archaeological data and information upon which Dr. Rice drew for his book are available in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record).

Rice specializes in the Hohokam and Mogollon cultures, which has given him the opportunity to oversee several excavations of Hohokam sites done by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).  In 2003, Rice and Brenda Shears, an ASU colleague received funding from ADOT to digitize the large number of highway archaeology reports and other information about the archaeological investigations in the Phoenix basin.  These were published as Intersections:  Pathways Through Time, a set of CD-ROM disks, cutting edge technology at the time.

In 2010, the Center for Digital Antiquity added all of the Intersections material to tDAR where it now can be accessed widely. Since being added to tDAR, the Intersection project page, from which all 39 of the reports published for the various highway archaeology investigations can be accessed and downloaded, has been viewed over 3,630 times.      

Congratulations to Dr. Rice for this well-deserved award!

The Center for Digital Antiquity is delighted to welcome Cynthia Pillote as the newest member of the Digital Antiquity Board of Directors. Ms. Pillote is an attorney specializing in intellectual property at Snell and Wilmer, a law firm based in the Phoenix area with offices throughout the western United States.

Ms. Pillote’s expertise is in working with clients to develop, implement and manage business strategies for procuring, maintaining and enforcing intellectual property rights.  Her practice includes U.S. and foreign patent, trademark and copyright prosecution; patent due diligence; technology transfer and licensing; and business transactions.  Cynthia’s technical experience has primarily focused on nanotechnology, semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing, medical devices and products, organic and inorganic chemistry compounds and processes, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, electronic commerce, mechanical devices, mining technology, green technology and electronic communication.

Ms. Pillote holds a B. S. in Chemical Engineering and a M. S. in Materials Science Engineering from Arizona State University. She also is a graduate of the Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law at ASU. Cynthia’s knowledge, skills and abilities will greatly benefit Digital Antiquity. We look forward to her input and guidance as tDAR and Digital Antiquity continue to grow!

Written By M. Scott Thompson
M. Scott Thompson is a Digital Curator at The Center for Digital Antiquity. He received his PhD from Arizona State University in May 2014.

Dissertation data should remain alive in the digital age. I am trying to maintain my dissertation data as living, usable data by curating multiple sets in a widely accessible digital repository – the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR). Let me tell you how and why I ditched the appendix.

Curating Dissertation Data in a Digital Repository

Recently, I completed my dissertation titled “Interaction with the Incorporeal in the Mississippian and Ancestral Puebloan Worlds.” The project is a comparative examination of the performance of mortuary ritual in the Prehispanic American Southeast and Southwest to understand the identities for the spirits of the dead in these two cultural environments. The examination involved the collection, management, and analysis of large amounts of mortuary data that span multiple archaeological culture areas.

I decided to present the dissertation data solely through tDAR (no appendices necessary). You can view the dissertation project page at the following URL: Here is how I “published” all that data online.

Foremost, I curated the dissertation’s primary, raw data in tDAR. I uploaded the complete relational database that I used for collecting and managing the project’s information. I was able to make the primary data available immediately to other researchers who are interested in the dissertation. Moreover, I continue to manage and enhance the primary data and all the associated metadata. I am still currently documenting the large amounts of metadata that describe the database.

Second, I wanted to curate the processed data sets that I used in each of the study’s analyses, as well as the metric results that each statistical analysis returned. In the dissertation project, I conducted a series of multivariate, exploratory data analysis (EDA) procedures to characterize particular aspects of mortuary ritual within large mortuary samples. In order to perform these analyses, I had to process and format the raw data a great deal. During the course of the analyses, I gathered analysis results (such as multiple correspondence analysis [MCA] and multidimensional scaling [MDS] scores), and then continued to manipulate that information to interpret it. I needed to present these data in a way that allowed other researchers to obtain and use it – with no additional effort.

I uploaded to tDAR the processed data and the results that pertain to each multivariate analysis. These data are directly linked to figures and tables that present analysis results in the document. I placed persistent URL addresses in relevant figure captions and in the text to direct readers to appropriate tDAR resources/pages. You can view several of the processed/analysis results data sets at the following URLs: and

I hope that the curation of my dissertation data with tDAR ensures that these data are widely available in easily accessible, active formats. Like all others who spend too many years to count with their dissertation projects, I want the data to be used. I want other researchers to continue to analyze the information, to build upon or perhaps refute my study’s results, and to discover novel ways to approach these data in order to answer other questions.

Thinking Beyond the Appendix to Save Your Dissertation Data

In the paper age, authoring a dissertation presented many challenges for publishing associated data. The document itself was often the only venue for presenting these data. A manuscript does not offer ideal or even suitable formats for publishing large amounts of data. Presentation of data in a dissertation requires an author to make difficult decisions about data simplification simply to fit information into neat tables, which then span page after page after page. It eliminates any relationships that exist among the pieces of information. Finally, it lengthens a manuscript that, as your chair and your committee often remind you, is already long enough.

The dissertation’s primary vehicle for data presentation was and typically still is the dreaded appendix. Lurking beyond the dissertation’s references, appendices are often a no man’s land of supplementary information. They are long halls of formatted tables, with lists of categorical variables, numbers, and codes. Because they are printed, they require researchers to conduct hours of work to recreate the data in a format that can be manipulated and used. Thus, the appendices are only visited by those researchers who have such a pressing need to understand a dissertation’s primary data that they are willing to digitize it and re-analyze it.

In the digital age, there are new and emerging ways to disseminate dissertation data. These technologies and digital venues can lift dissertation data from the depths of appendices and place the information in curated formats that are widely discoverable. Through the use of digital data repositories, authors can preserve their primary data in perpetuity and make them widely available. Most importantly, though, they can use digital repository tools to ensure that the data are usable, right away.

It’s Still Alive

Let’s make the printed dissertation appendix a vestigial structure. With new digital technologies and venues, we have an opportunity to move beyond the simple publishing of data.

We have tools that allow us to curate and present primary data in increasingly flexible and creative formats. These tools enable authors and other researchers to interact with primary data in the formats in which they were originally created. More importantly, they allow researchers to interact with primary data in new and exciting ways, which can promote and even demand collaboration, continued manipulation, and growth of existing data. Let’s consider the management and presentation of dissertation data as a living process.

Dissertation data should not become the undead. Dissertation data should remain alive.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced an opportunity to support projects that make it possible to preserve and share information from collections of books and manuscripts, photographs, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art and material culture, and digital objects. The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant is filed under the Division of Preservation and Access. Institutions with large and important collections of archaeological information that needs to be digitized, organized and/or more accessible to the general public may apply. The professional and highly-trained staff at tDAR would be happy to collaborate with you to develop a budget or proposal. The deadline for applications is July 17 for projects beginning May 2015.


To read more about this opportunity, click here. Or send us a message at for more information on collaborating with tDAR.

Digital Antiquity and tDAR will have a strong presence at both the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) and Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conferences this year. Come see us at either conference this week!


Keith Kintigh will discuss some of the challenges he sees in the future for digital repositories and digital research.

What do you want from Digital Archaeology?

Friday, April 25 2:00 – 4:45 PM, Panthéon S02

Enormous quantities of archaeological information and knowledge are embedded in articles and often-lengthy reports. Only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of gray literature and published reports is digitally accessible. These reports are often the only available data that document the excavation of important sites that are now thoroughly excavated, destroyed, or otherwise unavailable. We must develop improved methods of finding and extracting relevant information and knowledge that is embedded within those texts.


tDAR will also be at the SAA Annual Meeting in Austin this week. Stop by our booth (511) in the exhibit hall and enter to win a prize, or learn more about tDAR at one of the following events:

Forum on using tDAR

Thursday, April 24, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Room 9C (Convention Center)

How do your colleagues use tDAR? Come hear students, faculty, CRM professionals, and agency archaeologists discuss how they’ve made tDAR work for them.


Lightening Talk on Data Integration using tDAR

Friday, April 25, 12:45 – 1:30 PM, Meeting Room 414 (Hilton)

Interested in data integration with tDAR? Come see our lightening talk at the Digital Data Interest Group meeting. The 3 minute talks start at 12:45 and we are in slot #7. We should go on at 1:03!


Make the Most of Your tDAR Student Membership

Friday, April 25, 1:00 – 5:00 PM, Room 8B (Convention Center)

Are you a student member interested learning more about your tDAR member benefit and ways you might use it? We’ll be dropping in on the Student Futures Forums to answer any questions you may have!



Going to the SAA Meetings in Austin?  Connect with Digital Antiquity staff to learn more about Digital Preservation, tDAR, and Digital Antiquity by:

Attending our forum on Digital Preservation and Curation for Archaeological Data – Thursday, 6PM

  • You’ll hear from public agency archaeologists, CRM firms, researchers, teachers, and archivists who discuss the successes and challenges of digital preservation and data reuse.

Scheduling an appointment with one of our digital curation experts at SAA.  Click here to schedule your appointment! We can help with specific problems or questions, such as:

  • New to tDAR?  Ask for a quick guided to tour!
  • Are you an SAA student member and need help deciding what to archive with your tDAR credit? 
  • Are you planning a new archaeological project and want to ensure good digital data archiving from the outset?
  • Do you want to learn how to budget properly for digital curation using tDAR in responses to RFPs?
  • Are you interested in learning more about data integration for synthetic research? 
  • Are you afraid your digital archaeological legacy is at risk, but don’t know where to start? 
  • Would you like to see how easy it is to add a file to tDAR? 
  • Do you know how much to budget for digital data management for your next grant or project proposal?
  • Do you need help organizing managing your personal, project, office, or agency archaeological files?

Visiting us at the Digital Antiquity booth in the exhibit hall anytime.

  • Our booth number is 511 and we will be open from 9 AM – 5 PM.
  • You can say hello, and enter to win one of our daily giveaways!

 Hope to see you there!

Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of data sets go into tDAR. In that time, we’ve learned a great deal about what makes a data set ready for archiving, and conversely, what some of the common problem-spots are. Within tDAR, we try to catch many of these errors and provide users with warnings. We want to make the uploading process as easy as possible! We’ve put together a few tips to avoid the most common issues we see when archiving a CSV, TAB or Excel data set. Click here to view all the tips.

Have you discovered any shortcuts that make it easier for you to upload data sets? We would love to hear them! Send us an email at with your tips, comments or concerns.