Illustration credit: Ainsley Seago

Earlier this year the Board of the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) @acracrm endorsed and posted on the ACRA website two important documents promoting the sharing of data (e.g., reports and other documents, images, data sets, and other kinds of digital files) among archaeologists and other cultural resource specialists in CRM, academic and museum positions, public agencies, and other organizations.  One is a three-page policy document focused on promoting greater synergy between academic professionals and the CRM industry.  The document, which stresses the benefits of and need for greater communication and collaboration, presents recommendations of an ACRA task force, led by Duane Peter, that worked on the issue.  The second document, “Digital Data Curation and Access:  Why You and Your Organization should be Actively Involved”, summarizing the reasons for and benefits of greater sharing of data.

Additional publications concerning digital archaeology and data curation, including reports, case studies, and other helpful materials, can be found on the Digital Antiquity Publications page.

Wider use of tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record) would be a valuable contribution to streamlining the Section 106 and other environmental review procedures at both the beginning of the process and at the end (McManamon et al. 2017). Let’s first consider how including a search of tDAR’s digital content at the beginning of Section 106 or NEPA reviews could help. Discussions and presentations at the September 2018 annual ACRA (American Cultural Resource Association) conference last month in Cincinnati emphasized the imperative of identifying the location of known historic properties early in the review. Agencies or developers who are considering undertakings need to have information about where known historic properties are located. One such source of this information is the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) statewide historic property inventory maintained by each state, which must be searched as part of the planning for any such undertaking.

SHPO historic property inventory records typically contain basic geographic and limited descriptive information, for example, name of the property, property type, ownership, category of significance, etc. However, in most cases, the SHPO inventory records are not substantially updated or expanded. These records do not provide the much more detailed descriptive, analytical, and evaluative information or links or easy access to existing data from more detailed studies of the historic properties.

Some SHPOs have accessible inventories of reports submitted as part of earlier Section 106 reviews. While some inventories may also include links between the reports of past investigations and the historic property inventory, many do not. In addition, most SHPOs limit access to and/or charge for use of their digital files, both the historic property inventory records and their reports of investigations libraries, so providing wider access is a challenge administratively and technically.

In her presentation at the ACRA conference, Marion Werkheiser made the point that easier access to and broader use of the “treasure trove” of additional information from past investigations would be beneficial for speeding up archaeological, environmental, and historic preservation reviews. The fuller contextual, descriptive, and interpretive information provided by these materials substantially enhance the typically sparse records contained in the SHPO inventories. The full extent of the data treasure trove is not known, but recent compilations (Altschul 2016:68-71; Departmental Consulting Archaeologist 2009: 41-44, 2010: 50-56) indicate that it encompasses millions of reports, images, data sets, and other kinds of files, some paper, but many already in digital formats. It is a terrible waste of (mostly) public funds and the results of much human endeavor not to make better use of this trove of existing data.

Content in tDAR includes these more detailed data, primarily in technical reports of investigations, but also in images, data sets, and other files deposited in tDAR. Much of this contextual and other substantive information derives from prior Section 106 or Section 110 or NEPA investigations. If a streamlined Section 106 process included a search of tDAR, the results would enable project proponents and their cultural resource management (CRM) consultants or staffs to obtain a fuller view of what work already had been done in potential impact areas and relative easy access to the results of these prior studies. In most cases, this detailed information is needed as part of the Section 106 review, which, in addition to simply identifying where historic properties are located, must assess their significance and value(s), determine if they will be impacted by the undertaking, and suggest how adverse impacts anticipated by the undertaking can be mitigated.

Digital searching of tDAR content is possible using geographic terms, key words, text strings, individual or groups of terms, and other means. In a streamlined review process, such searches would supplement what can be learned from basic SHPO historic property inventories. The tDAR metadata records, which are available for all files deposited in tDAR, are publicly accessible. Search of these digital records would not require any coding for special access. Access to the digital files themselves can be controlled with additional review of requests for access required (more on this process below).

A second way that using tDAR can improve and streamline review procedure is at the end of the investigation process. Data created by any Section 106 or environmental review-related investigation should be deposited in tDAR as part of the project itself, analogous to the mandatory deposit of physical collections and paper records in a qualified curatorial repository at the end of a project. As is clear from the detailed legal analysis by Cultural Heritage Partners (2012), the requirement for up-to-date digital data curation exists in 36 CFR 79, the National Archives and Records Administration regulations, and the statutes from which these regulation derive.

Depositing data in tDAR as part of a project is easily accomplished administratively by including in all investigation scopes of work the requirement that the CRM or environmental consulting firm carrying out the work upload to tDAR and complete the metadata records for the digital products (mainly documents, images, data sets) of their investigation. A number of examples are summarized below. By including this activity as part of the CRM contract, the new data becomes immediately available for use by and for new projects. With these data deposits, the information treasure trove grows with the completion of each current CRM investigation.

Concern is often raised about access to certain kinds of archaeological data, for example, very specific information about the location of in situ resources that may be in some documents, forms, data sets, etc. Data deposited in tDAR can be marked as “confidential” at the time they are uploaded. This designation requires that others who wish to see or download the confidential files must contact the individual or organization that authorized the deposit of the files and be given access to the files by the depositor. This provides for an extra level of protection for confidential data deposited in tDAR. It also is possible for those who deposit data in tDAR to create, using readily available commercial software, “redacted” versions of documents or other files from which confidential data are removed. These redacted versions can be deposited and made available in tDAR to registered tDAR users who have agreed formally to give credit to the data creator(s) if the data are used for subsequent research and not to take any actions that would endanger the resources to which the data relate. Several agencies and firms that have created digital archives in tDAR to manage their digital archaeology and cultural heritage data. These tDAR users create redacted versions, as well as, deposit confidential full versions of their data. This approach enables them to control access to the confidential data, but also provides wider and easier public and professional access to data that is not confidential.

SHPOs, of course, will want and should have copies of reports and related material in their own offices where they can make use of them. A strategy for long-term digital data preservation envisions many copies of the data being preserved and available for reuse in multiple repositories. It is not a problem if data are cared for in more than a single repository. A growing number of examples exist of public agencies (national, state, local, and, soon we hope, tribal programs) depositing data in tDAR where they can use the data more effectively and efficiently and manage access. Below are several recent examples.

Phoenix Area Office (PXAO), Bureau of Reclamation:

This extensive archive, set up in 2011 is the first digital archive collection in tDAR. It is used actively by PXAO CRM staff to manage their data (Digital Antiquity 2013). Currently the archive includes 11 datasets, 371 documents, 5 GIS datasets, 56 images, and 103 projects. Growth continues both through the addition of legacy data and through the inclusion of data from recent or current projects. In terms of the resources in this tDAR collection being discoverable, accessible, and used, in 2017 and 2018, resources in the collection have been viewed over 57,180 times and files downloaded 5,534 times.


SWCA (a CRM firm based in Colorado):

The firm deposited data from a recent project, the Sigurd to Red Butte No. 2 transmission line in UT. This project archive includes 12 data sets and 10 documents (reports, artifact data sets and site inventory forms). The site inventory forms are marked in tDAR as confidential and have access controlled by SWCA and the BLM. The physical collections are curated at the Natural History Museum of Utah. The project digital data were deposited as the final part of a project overseen by BLM and funded by a private energy company. The files and metadata records were uploaded to tDAR by SWCA as a project deliverable. Throughout this project, 81 sites were investigated in some combination of Phase I testing, Phase II excavation, and/or Level II historical documentation. The CRM firm that undertook this project, SWCA, was requested to take on the project in May of 2015. The project data was deposited in tDAR in June, 2017. That is a quick “turn-around” time from project start to project data being made available. In this case it was possible by using tDAR as the data repository where other potential users can discover, access, and make use of the data.


Dovetail Research Group (a CRM firm based in North Carolina):

The firm deposited as part of their project completion the data from excavations of the Armstrong-Rogers Site (7NC-F-135) (Hatch et al. 2017). The excavation is part of a larger archaeological program for developments of the U.S. Route 301 Corridor, New Castle County, Delaware. This project archive consists of 3 datasets and 2 documents, Phase III investigations. The project is part of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDoT) Digital Archive in tDAR, which is described in the next bullet.


DelDoT Digital Archive, Delaware Dept. of Transportation:

So far data from five recent major archaeological projects done as part of the Route 301 project. At present, the archive includes 15 data sets, 6 reports, and 30 sets of images. These data are organized under five projects carried out by different CRM firms as part of the overall impact mitigation program for the highway project.


Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc. (a CRM firm based in California):

Far Western deposited data for two recent projects on behalf of their client, the Bureau of Reclamation Lower Colorado River office. Archaeological Inventory of 1,927 Acres Atop and Adjacent to Mormon Mesa, Clark County, Nevada (2018) and Class III Cultural Resources Inventory of 1,555 Acres East of the Virgin River, Clark County, Nevada (2018). For this project, the fieldwork was completed in January 2018 and the documents and data sets were uploaded and made available in July 2018.


Managing or curating data is an important, albeit, frequently overlooked part of any research project no matter what the subject area or reason behind the study. Good management of digital data requires that they be broadly and easily discovered, accessed, understandable for reuse, and preserved for future uses. The desire among data users for greater transparency and access is widespread among both the scientific and humanities disciplines and with policy makers. This is particularly true for data that have been produced at public expense, e.g., through funding agencies such as EPA, NSF, NEH, NIH, and USGS. The demand for greater access to sponsored project research data is focused on issues such as what data are saved by such publicly funded or required projects; where and how can such data be discovered and accessed; and, what metadata are curated with these data files that make them usable. The recent research about how data are managed by York, Gutmann, and Berman (2018) describes some of the challenges in this area. Depositing data in tDAR as part of the completion of investigations is one way to ensure that project results do not broaden an already existing data stewardship gap in archaeology, historic preservation, and heritage studies.

References Cited

Altschul, Jeffery H. (2016) The Role of Synthesis in American Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management as Seen through an Arizona Lens. Journal of Arizona Archaeology 4(1):68–81., accessed 4 October 2018.

Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC (2012) Federal Laws and Regulations Requiring Curation of Digital Archaeological Documents and Data., accessed 4 October 2018.

Departmental Consulting Archeologist (2009) The Goals and Accomplishments of the Federal Archeology Program: The Secretary of the Interior’s Report to Congress on the Federal Archeology Program, 1998-2003. Archaeology Program, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC. doi:10.6067/XCV81N7ZR4, accessed November 30, 2016.

Departmental Consulting Archeologist (2010) The Secretary of the Interior’s Report to Congress on the Federal Archeology Program, 2004-2007. Archaeology Program, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC. doi:10.6067/XCV8Q81DZV, accessed November 30, 2016

Digital Antiquity (2013) Case Study: Using tDAR to Manage Legacy and New Archaeological Documents and Data, the Phoenix Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation., accessed 4 October 2018 .

Hatch, Brad, Danae Peckler, Joseph Blondino, Kerry S. Gonzalez, Emily Calhoun, Kerri S. Barile (2017) Archaeological Data Recovery at the Armstrong-Rogers Site(7NC-F-135) New Castle County, Delaware. D. (tDAR id: 446689); doi:10.6067/XCV8ZC85SX., accessed 4 October 2018.

McManamon, Francis P., Keith W. Kintigh, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Adam Brin (2017) tDAR: A Cultural Heritage Archive for Twenty-First-Century Public Outreach, Research, and Resource Management. Advances in Archaeological Practice 5(3):238-249., accessed 4 October 2018.

York, Jeremy, Myron Gutmann, and Francine Berman (2018) What do we know about the stewardship gap? Data Science Journal 17:1-17., accessed 4 October 2018.

Digital Antiquity Executive Director and Research Professor Frank McManamon organized and chaired a panel of US archaeologists as part of a data science workshop in Belgrade, Serbia, 26-28 August.  The “US-Serbia & West Balkan Data Science Workshop,” was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Serbian Ministry of Science, Education, and Technological Development, the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Belgrade, and the U. S. Embassy. Organized and chaired by Professor Zoran Obradovic, L. H. Carnell Professor of Data Analytics and Professor, Statistical Science Department, Fox School of Business, Temple University and Aleksandra Drecun, President of Intersections, Center for Science and Innovation, Serbia, the workshop combined panels on data science foundations, mathematical research, big data critical infrastructure, bio-medical informatics, and archaeological research. Paired panels from the US and Serbia and the West Balkans addressed data science issues and themes as they are relevant for each of their professions.  

The US archaeology panel members and the subjects of their presentations, included:

Frank McManamon, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity and Research Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University (Organizer and Chair); 

Ben Marwick, Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department, University Washington, and Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Archaeology, University of Wollongong, Australia,  “Archaeological Science, Archaeology of Science, and Tools for Closing the Gap between Practice and Ideals;” 

Tim Kohler, Regents Professor, Anthropology, Washington State University, “More Data and More Computation but not Necessarily Less Theory: Assessing the Status and Near-Future Directions of Archaeology;”

Carrie Heitman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Evidential Reasoning in Archaeological Science and the Need for Humanistic Approaches to Big Data;” and, 

Adam Rabinowitz, Assistant Director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology and Associate Professor, Department of Classics, The University Texas at Austin, “Grand Challenges, Big Data, Fuzzy Data, and Digital Archaeology: integrating information about the past into the Planet Texas 2050 DataX platform.”

McManamon introducing the US Archaeology panel, Ben Marwick (behind podium), Tim Kohler, Carrie Heitman, Adam Rabinowitz (partially visible to Heitman’s right)

Overall, the workshop explored how the US data science community can cooperate with and benefit from collaborations with partners in Serbia and the West Balkan region. The scope includes fundamental data science methods and high-impact applications related to big data processing, data science applications in critical infrastructures, biomedical informatics, and digital archaeology.

The workshop facilitated closing the gap between data science research in the US and Serbia and the region. US data scientists in various fields mixed with Serbian and Western Balkan researchers from disciplines that until recently had little exposure to data science methods, potentially enabling collaborative breakthroughs in those scientific fields. 

In addition to the formal workshop sessions, the US archaeologists had a number of side meetings with colleagues in the Serbian Institute of Archaeology.  In addition to the exchange of information about how research, theory, and methods and techniques  in the fields represented are being integrated with data science, the workshop had the goal of establishing collaborations between Serbian and West Balkan scientists and US colleagues. There appear to be a number of possible collaborations among the archaeologists.

Serbian and US archaeologists consulting (l. to r.: Miomir  Korać, Director, Institute of Archaeology, Serbia; Carrie Heitman; Frank McManamon; Snezana Golubovic, Research Associate Professor, Institute of Archaeology, Serbia; Ben Marwick. 

An ASU Connection

US Ambassador to Serbia, Kyle R. Scott (BA ASU 1979; Thunderbird School of Global Management, 1980) made remarks during a workshop panel during the first day.  Scott made the important comment, noting that available data these days is not simply “big,” it is “huge.”  He pointed out that in order to make good use of these data, they need to be effectively managed. 

Carol Pierce-McManamon, Frank Pierce-McManamon, and US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle R. Scott (ASU 1979; Thunderbird 1980) at US Embassy reception for Data Science Workshop participants.

McManamon, in his remarks on another panel later in the workshop, picked up on Scott’s comments. He noted that few presentations during the workshop had addressed or even mentioned issues of managing the vast amount of digital data that was utilized in the data analyses that were the focus of many presentations.  Good management of digital data requires that they be broadly and easily discovered, accessed, understandable for reuse, and preserved for future uses. The desire among data users for greater transparency and access is widespread among both scientific and humanities disciplines and with policy makers. This is particularly true for data that have been produced at public expense, e.g., through funding agencies such as EPA, NSF, NEH, NIH, and USGS.  The demand for greater access to sponsored project research data is focused on issues such as what data are saved by such publicly funded or required projects; where and how can such data be discovered and accessed; and, what metadata are curated with these data files that make them usable. The recent research about how data are managed by York, Gutmann, and Berman (“What do we know about the stewardship gap?” Data Science Journal 17:1-17. Doi: describes some of the challenges in this area, which McManamon summarized briefly in his remarks at the workshop.

Workshop Panel:  McManamon, far right.  Chair and other panelists (l. to r).: Nevena Veljkovic, Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Nuclear Sciences “Vinca”,University of Belgrade; Predrag Radivojac, Professor, Computer Science and Statistics, Indiana University; Gregor Stiglic, Vice-Dean, Health Sciences, University of Maribor, Slovenia; Silvana Blazevska, Archeologist-Curator, National Institute for Management of the Archeological Site of Stobi, Macedonia; Vladimir Bajić, Director of Computational Biosciences Research Center and Professor Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia  

Digital Antiquity Staff from Left to Right: Leigh Anne Ellison, Tyler Sutton, Adam Brin, Frank McManamon, Brian Castellanos, Cole Von Roeder (ERG), Chris Frady (ERG), Lani Harrison, and Rachel Fernandez


Just last month we celebrated a decade since the first record was created in tDAR. In this post, we report on more recent events and express our thanks to people important to Digital Antiquity and tDAR. At our meeting of the Board of Directors earlier this year, Dr. Tim Kohler (Regent’s Professor at Washington State University) and Dr. Dean Snow (Emeritus Professor at the Pennsylvania State University) announced that they would not seek reappointment. Kohler and Snow are among the founding members of the Digital Antiquity Board. Before that, they were members of Archaeo Informatics, which was established to preserve meaningful archaeological data in its many forms and the metadata necessary to keep these data useful and to provide scholars and the general public with broad and easy access to these data.

Tim and Dean were among the co-PIs for the first development grant provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that enabled the establishment of Digital Antiquity and provided funding for the development and early growth of tDAR content. They have been active Board members providing advice and perspective aiding in the growth of both Digital Antiquity and tDAR. We greatly appreciate the time and expertise they have shared with us and hope we can tap them for more advice, if less frequently, in the future.

Turning to staff changes that occurred earlier this year, we are delighted to welcome three new members of the Digital Antiquity staff. Tyler Sutton began as our newest digital curator in late March. No stranger to Digital Antiquity or tDAR, Tyler joined in August 2016, as a member of our initial “class” of student veterans hired to work on the Digital Veterans Curation Program, which is part of the US Army Corps of Engineers VCP that focuses on rehabilitating archaeological physical collections so they are available for modern archaeological investigations.

In mid-April, Lani Harrison joined Digital Antiquity as Administrative Specialist. Lani is making quick progress through the administrative backlog figuratively piled up since the departure of her predecessor. Our newest staff arrival is Cole Von Roeder, a rising senior in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change interested in a career in archaeology. Cole is also a student-veteran and is working on adding digital files from the VCP laboratories to tDAR where they will be accessible and useable for education and research.

We send our thanks and best wishes for success to two staff members. Herminio Meneses, another of our first group of student-veterans who worked on Digital VCP. Herminio, a senior with only a few courses left to graduate, is a member of the National Guard and was deployed a week ago to the Arizona border on orders of the governor. We hope for his safety and that the wifi service he can access down south is strong enough to enable him to take the ASU online courses he needs to complete his degree.

Lastly, we offer congratulations, as well as thanks and best wishes, to Alexa Rose, one of our student workers who graduated this week with a major in Classics and Anthropology. Alexa helped with drafting metadata records and curation of report files for the Digital Archive of Huhugam Archaeology, one of our NEH-funded projects. Alexa will be continuing her education in Classical Archaeology, starting a Master’s degree at Brandeis this fall. We wish her the best of luck.

Congratulations to our colleagues Tim Kohler (Washington State University), a member of the Center for Digital Antiquity Board of Directors and Mike Smith (School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University) for recent attention to the results of their research program on the roots of inequality published in Nature.

Figure 3 from “Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica,’’ by TA Kohler et al. Nature 551:619-622 (30 November 2017)
a, Coefficients by absolute date of sample (calibrated BC/AD 14C, tree-ring date or calendar date); n = 62; !Kung San was excluded. b, Coefficients by Δyears (date of sample − date of the local appearance of domesticated plants); n = 63. S Mesopotamia Early Dyn, Southern Mesopotamia Early Dynastic; CMV PII, Central Mesa Verde region Pueblo II.


Organized by Kohler and Smith, the research involves work by many scholars, e.g., there are 18 co-authors of the recent Nature article.  A symposium at the 2016 SAA Annual Meeting, “Inequality from the Bottom Up: Measuring and Explaining Household Inequality in Antiquity,” involved a similar number of presenters.    A book, Ten Thousand Years of Inequality: The Archaeology of Wealth Differences is being prepared for publication by the University of Arizona Press.

Data from the wealth inequalities research project are being deposited in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record) for easy and broad accessibility and use. These data also supplement chapters in the forthcoming book.

The research results describe and interpret the long development of wealth inequality from ancient to historic to modern times in different parts of the world.  This topic, of course, is of wide interest and concern at present in many parts of the world, not least the United States and China.  The research results have been discussed in Science, for which Kohler and Smith were interviewed.  The research results were featured in a televised segment by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

The Center for Digital Antiquity staff and collaborators report a very successful year in the area of grant awards.  Last spring, Keith Kintigh (School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University), a member of the Center for Digital Antiquity Board of Directors, and a group of co-investigators were awarded a three-year grant, “The Digital Archive of Huhugam Archaeology,“ by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program.   The Digital Archive of Huhugam Archaeology (DAHA) project will create a comprehensive digital library of reports on archaeological investigations of the ancient Huhugam (Hohokam). These central and southern Arizona inhabitants once tamed the Sonoran desert through sophisticated irrigation, far-flung networks of ceremonial ball courts, specialized craft production, extensive trade, and large, long-lived towns. When complete, the archive will contain copies of 1600 major archaeological reports, estimated to total roughly 400,000 pages.  The DAHA archive content is already being built in tDAR.

Drawing of Compound A, including the Great House, at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument


The digital archive will reside within Digital Antiquity’s tDAR(the Digital Archaeological Record) online repository that preserves and provides access to archaeological and cultural heritage data and information. The archive will provide scholars with crucial long-term data for comparative studies, indigenous communities with access to a wealth of research on ancestral populations, teachers at all levels with firsthand research texts for classroom use, and the general public with a reliable, valued resource to learn about this fascinating ancient culture.

Kintigh is the lead PI for the grant for which Digital Antiquity Executive Director, Frank McManamon is one of the co-PIs.  Digital Antiquity Director of Technology Adam Brin, Program Manager, Leigh Anne Ellison, and Lead Digital Curator, Rachel Fernandez also have substantial roles in the project. Digital Antiquity is partnering with the Amerind Museum (Director, Christine Szuter) on the project.  Other collaborators and co-PIs on the grant include ASU colleagues in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (David Abbott and Richard Toon), ASU Libraries (Michael Simeone), and American Indian Studies (David Martinez).

Also in the spring, the National Science Foundation Archaeometry Program awarded a two-year grant to Digital Antiquity, “Advancing Synthesis, Open Access, and Reproducibility in Archaeological Research,“ Kintigh again is the lead PI and McManamon co-PI with substantial involvement by Brin, Ellison, and Fernandez at Digital Antiquity.  For this grant, Digital Antiquity is partnering with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the CRM firm Brockington and Associates.  The award will enable the research team to simplify the procedures, or workflow, from data collection to deposit of useful data and information in a digital repository where they can be discovered, accessed, and used for future research, education, public outreach, and resource management.

During the summer, we learned from Michael E. Smith, our colleague at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, that the National Science Foundation Archaeology Program was funding a two-year grant, “Documenting, Disseminating, and Archiving Data from the Teotihuacan Mapping Project,“ for which Smith is the lead PI and McManamon co-PI and Angela Huster is the post-doc for the project.  The digital data created and updated will be added to a tDAR collection for the project, now under construction, where it will be broadly accessible for future research and educational uses.

At the beginning of December, our colleague Michelle Hegmon (School of Human Evolution and Social Change,  Arizona State University) was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Digital Humanities Program.“  The award will provide support for the development of tools to enable online analysis and research of digital collections, in particular for images, the testbed for the project is the Mimbres Pottery Images Digital Database (MimPIDD) in tDAR.

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 digital images illustrate the painted designs on each vessel, along with associated descriptive information about archaeological context, temporal style, and vessel form and size. For the new project Hegmon will work with Center for Digital Antiquity Director of Technology, Adam Brin, DA Executive Director, Frank McManamon, and ASU Libraries’, Mary Whelan.


Left image:  #10050, Style III Bowl from Swartz site (2012), Right image: #140, Style III Bowl from Deming area (2012)

At Digital Antiquity, additional grants work continued on projects begun in 2016.  Work on the dataARC project  with colleagues at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Colleen Strawhacker (dataARC  PI), the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization, the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, plus researchers in Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, and other parts of northern Europe and the North Atlantic.  dataARC is producing online tools and infrastructure to enable researchers from a broad range of disciplines to study the long-term human ecodynamics of the North Atlantic, including Iceland, Greenland, and the Orkney Islands. Digital Antiquity Director of Technology, Adam Brin serves as the technical lead for DataARC.

Further work also is underway on the SKOPE II (Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments) project. Kintigh, Kohler, and Brin are involved in the project, which provides an online resource for paleoenvironmental data and models. It enables scholars to easily discover, explore, visualize, and synthesize knowledge of environments in the recent or remote past. Through a 2016 collaborative award to Arizona State University (ASU), the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign (UIUC), and Washington State University (WSU), the National Science Foundation is funding the ongoing development of SKOPE (SKOPE NSF proposal page).

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.

Guest Author: Sharlot Hart, Archeologist and Acting Public Information Officer, Southern Arizona Office, National Park Service

Jeffery Burton’s 1992 report “San Miguel de Guevavi: The Archeology of an Eighteenth Century Jesuit Mission on the Rim of Christendom” has been downloaded from tDAR 41 times (the metadata record that is linked to the report in tDAR has been viewed even more frequently, nearly 1700 times since it was created and the file uploaded in 2010).  That’s a lot for an off-the-beaten-path archaeological site that’s usually closed to the public.  Mission Guevavi, situated along the upper Santa Cruz River, is preserved by the National Park Service (NPS) as a detached unit of Tumacácori National Historical Park.  While the park provides special tours of the site, its remote location and minimal standing architecture makes it less than ideal for visitation from the general public. The figure with this posting (Figure 7.1) is from Burton’s report and shows plan and cross-section of the church at the mission.  Guevavi still has so much to add to the archaeological record, though, and it served as the site for a University of Arizona/NPS/Desert Archaeology, Inc. joint field school from 2013 to 2015.

In this light, it makes a little more sense that the seminal report on Guevavi has been downloaded so many times. Digital access to documents like this one is imperative these days. While NPS managers may have a copy of the report in dead-tree (i.e., paper) form, digital access is especially important for our current college students who often prefer digital form. Even for NPS archeologists, digital access is often times quicker than tracking down the park’s copy (Who’s desk did I see that on?). For other researchers and interested members of the public, who cannot easily visit the park office where a paper copy may exist, digital access through tDAR may be the only feasible way for them to read and use the report.

One of the main goals of the recent field school was to research archaeological remains on lands surrounding the NPS-managed core of the Mission area, to get a better idea of the site’s full occupational history.  And as an NPS cultural resource manager myself, I’ve necessarily researched the areas around Mission Guevavi to write a culture history ahead of preservation work on the church walls.  For all of these efforts, access to and use of Burton’s report has been invaluable.

Burton’s report is part of the Archaeology of Tumacacori National Historical Park project, which includes three other reports, published in 1981 and 1992.  It’s a great way to learn about two different missions, both set up along the Santa Cruz River.  And while not set up in a specific collection, the reports that tDAR houses, combined with its ability to search for projects using the geographical filter, make researching these unique sites, including Precontact, Protohistoric, Spanish, Mexican, and American Territorial periods, fascinating.  The next time you’ve got a free moment, I heartily suggest checking out the archaeology of the Santa Cruz River Valley in Southern Arizona.

On the 6-8 November, Arizona State University hosted the first Army Reserve Mission Resilience and Sustainability (ARMRS) conference, which included over 150 military personnel, civilians, and contractors in attendance. At the invitation of Ms. Kathleen McLaughlin, Deputy Federal Preservation Office for the US Army, Digital Antiquity (DA) staff assisted in the CRM sessions of the training, which Ms. McLaughlin taught.

Like other public agencies, the US Army Reserve is responsible for the care of archaeological and cultural heritage resources on the facilities and land that they manage. Data and information about these resources also must be managed effectively for access, use, and sharing. The DA presentation, “Access, Use/Reuse, and Preservation of Data and Information Using tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record)” illustrates how the tDAR repository is a tool that the US Army Reserve can use to meets its responsibilities. In addition, use of tDAR by US Army Reserve CRM staff will make managing and using the data much more effective and efficient.

The overall mission of the conference sought to provide training, context, and understanding of sustainability and its importance to the Army Reserve.  ASU, being a pioneer in the field of sustainability, covered multiple subjects from infrastructure and building to reusable energy sources and the processing of wastewater.

This platform provided the ideal opportunity for the Center for Digital Antiquity (DA) to present their commitment to archaeological sustainability and reuse of nonrenewable archaeological sources.  DA’s Executive Director Frank McManamon, along with Program Manager Leigh Anne Ellison and Digital Curator Rachel Fernandez were part of the professional training and discussed with the session participants access to, reuse of, and long-term preservation for digital archaeological data and other cultural heritage resources.  tDAR, as the premier archaeological repository, would present the Army Reserve with the opportunity to preserve and protect the cultural resources that are located on bases and facilities throughout the US, which they are responsible for managing.

Many of the training attendees expressed interest in learning more about the Center for Digital Antiquity and support that tDAR could provide in the Army Reserve’s mission towards continued sustainability.

One hundred eleven years ago last month, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation that enacted the Antiquities Act of 1906.  Section 2 of the statute provides presidents with the authority to designate public lands of special archaeological, cultural, historical, or natural significance as National Monuments.  Such action provides special management and protection for cultural and natural resources within the area designated.


Before he left office, President Obama made a series of such designations that are being challenged, as are some of the designations made by Presidents Bush and Clinton.  The wide range of political philosophy among these three recent presidents indicates the historically broad appeal and use of the National Monument designation authority by presidents since the Antiquities Act became law over a century ago.


The Department of the Interior is seeking comments concerning possible recommendations that the Secretary may make regarding Presidential action, legislative proposals, or other actions regarding Act.  Comments on this topic are being sought, but must be made before 10 July.  For those who wish to make a comment, you can find the page here.


The Antiquities Act is an important United States law, not only for the National Monuments designation authority, but for other historical and contemporary matters as well.  For those interested in digging deeper into the law, its use 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 and other related topics.


The tDAR collection includes documents related to the history and use of the Antiquities Act of 1906.  The statute laid the foundation for archaeological preservation, conservation and historic preservation laws passed through the 20th century.  It remains an important statute into the 21st century.