This week I visited the Preservation Archaeology Field School in southwestern New Mexico organized by Archaeology Southwest. While there, I led a student training session on managing and preserving digital data. The students got to use tDAR to preserve datasets and maps from work done at the 3-UP Site in 2008 and 2009. These will complement the excavation report when it is completed later this year.

Good digital curation practices need to be part of every archaeologist’s workflow and introducing your students to this now can help build good habits for life.  Archaeology Southwest’s Preservation Archaeology Field School students learned about the importance of metadata, keeping good records and managing digital archaeological data first hand. I had the opportunity to be out in the field again (for a little bit),  work with a great group of students and welcoming staff and try my hand at working on an experimental adobe structure. Most importantly these digital resources will be preserved and accessible!  

Digital Antiquity is always looking for opportunities to work with students and early researchers–get in touch if you’d like one of our digital curators to come out to your field school or do a web-based workshop!

A special thanks to Karen Schollmeyer  for her support in organizing the training session.

[Photo Credits: Jodi Reeves Flores (above), Karen Schollmeyer (first, below) and Allen Denoyer (second, below)]


Selected reports from New York State are now available in tDAR, thanks to the New York State Museum and the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University. The collection currently contains over 30 reports from 16 different counties, with plans to add more resources in the future. The reports cover CRM work done over the past three decades and will be a valuable resource for those interested in prehistoric and historic archaeology of New York State. Browse the New York State Museum and the Public Archaeology Facility, Binghamton University Archaeological Collection today!

Katherine A. Spielmann (Arizona State University) and Tiffany Clark (Arizona State University) will be hosting a workshop to train participants in the uploading, mapping, and integrated analysis of faunal datasets in the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) at the San Francisco Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting.  tDAR provides an innovative and powerful approach to the synthesis of original archaeological data through the use of an analytical tool that makes it possible to integrate databases (or spreadsheets) that were recorded by different investigators using different analytical protocols. The resulting unified database can then be used to address a diversity of research questions.

During the workshop the instructors will introduce tDAR and explain what coding keys and ontologies are, and how they fit together in tDAR. They will then work with each participant to upload one faunal dataset and its associated coding key, and on mapping their coding key to the general ontologies for a broad range of faunal variables that are available in tDAR. Towards the end of the workshop they will demonstrate the integration of multiple datasets using the tDAR data integration tool.

If you register for the workshop, instructions for what you should do before leaving home will be emailed to you.

Sign up for the workshop when registering for the meeting. Have you already registered? You can edit your registration through the SAA registration page to add this and other workshops and events.

Wednesday, 15 April, 1:00pm–5:00pm;

maximum 10 persons;

$90 meeting attendees

We also encourage you to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall.  Digital Antiquity staff will be on hand all week to answer your questions and give you a personalized tour of tDAR.  You can even sign up in advance for a 15 minute meeting with one of us to ensure you don’t have to wait!  Click here to access the calendar and select your time.

Digital Antiquity staff often get requests for information on curating, preserving and accessing digital archaeological material, and we try to share as much of our knowledge as possible through our blog, online seminars and in person workshops. Inspired by a recent conversation on Twitter, we thought we’d share resources we’ve put together and that people interested in these topics will find helpful.

Contributors to tDAR’s blog have addressed issues regarding curation, preservation and access in the selection of blog posts below:

Digital Antiquity and the Archaeological Data Service have also produced guidance on good practices for caring for digital archaeological data:

If you would like to learn more about curation, preservation and access for archaeology we encourage you to sign up for one of our workshops or online seminars offered through the Society for American Archaeology:

Do you have a specific question or topic you think we should explore? Feel free to leave a comment! Register for SAA 2015 Annual Meeting and sign up for our in person workshops. If you have already registered you can always log in and edit your registration through the SAA website. In addition to the workshops our staff are giving papers and posters and will be on hand in the exhibit hall all week.  We hope to see you there!

The Center for Digital Antiquity (Digital Antiquity) and the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) are proud to announce that digital archaeological materials associated with the archaeological collections from Department of Defense bases and facilities that are curated at the MAC Lab and the Fort Lee Regional Archaeological Curation Facility (RACF) are now active and available on tDAR.  Making this wealth of archaeological information accessible was made possible through “Evaluating a Cooperative Approach to the Management of Digital Archaeological Records (ECAMDAR)” – a project funded by the Department of Defense Legacy Program. The two collections contain a wealth of archaeological data from 23 Army and Navy bases and facilities in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC area that has been collected over the past three-plus decades.

The purpose of the ECAMDAR project–led by Sara Rivers Cofield, the Federal Curator at the MAC Lab–was to evaluate tDAR as a potential repository for the DoD’s digital archaeological records. The study used collections from the MAC Lab at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM), and the RACF at Fort Lee. Together, the MAC Lab and RACF curate collections from 25 DoD installations. Existing digital data files from these installations were submitted to Digital Antiquity where digital curators, led by Jodi Reeves Flores, checked files, migrated them to current digital format standards (as needed), drafted metadata for each file, redacted very specific site location data (as needed), and uploaded the files to tDAR.  In total, 6,889 files/17.6GB from 23 installations were added to tDAR where they are now protected in perpetuity as irreplaceable records of archaeological sites and are accessible in accordance with 36 CFR Part 79 and DoD regulations.

The project was designed to test whether the features and functionality of tDAR is appropriate and sufficient to manage DoD data in a manner that is secure, cost-effective, and of benefit to the military mission. The process demonstrated that tDAR is capable of meeting these requirements and could be adopted by bases and facilities throughout the DoD. The tDAR software and features are flexible enough to handle files from many different installations. The results were positive, so comments regarding DoD-wide implementation are included in the project report submitted to the Department of Defence Legacy Program and now under final review for approval.

Digital Antiquity would like to thank Rivers Cofield and the project participants from the different installations for their time and commitment to the project, as well as the DoD Legacy Program for recognizing the importance in preserving and making accessible digital archaeological materials.

In 2011 the Center for Digital Antiquity used information about archaeological reports found in the National Archaeological Database (NADB) to creates over 350,000 tDAR citation records. These new tDAR records improved this information with enhanced metadata and a display of geographic information that enable for easier discovery and access. In tDAR these records can be edited and improved; for example, if a digital file of the report described in the citation record is available, it can be uploaded and added to tDAR, thereby greatly enhancing accessibility to the information.

Recently David Hughes discovered the tDAR record for a report he co-authored in 1987: The Courson Archeological Projects, 1985 and 1986: Final 1985  and Preliminary 1986. The report documents the results of fieldwork done at the sites Courson A (41OC26) and Courson B (41OC27) as well as the almost pristine Kit Courson site (41OC43), and it also covers the history of archaeological work done at an area known as the ‘Buried City’. Anyone interested in the history of  archaeological practice during the early twentieth century–and who isn’t?– will find this section very engaging, as this introduction indicates (Hughes & Hughes-Jones 1987, pp. 7):

Many interesting human details about archeological investigations are rarely published. The stories exist in field notes, correspondence, anecdotes and rumors about the personal and professional relationships of those involved, the behavior of the crew, the weather, the attitudes of the local landowners, and vehicle breakdowns and other nuisances of field work. Particularly for the Moorehead expeditions, there is more to the history of archeological investigations at the Buried City than appears in published reports. Part of the story lies in the methods of archeology some 60-80 years ago, and part lies in the relationship of two strong-willed scholars of different backgrounds and, apparently, different values. The untold story explains a significant loss of data that occurred even before the passage of time between Moorehead’s last expedition in 1920 and the current project in 1985. This story is so important to the history of archeology on the Courson Ranch that we present it in some detail here. 

Hughes contacted Digital Antiquity and offered to scan a copy he had of the report, which he then sent to us. We were able add the digital copy to the existing tDAR record and add additional metadata. This means that this once hard to access record of archaeological practice  is now easily find-able and accessible thanks to NADB, tDAR, and Hughes.

We’d like to encourage other archaeologists and tDAR users to please get in touch if they have access to a copy of one of the  citation-only records already in tDAR.  A digital curator can work with you to add the file to the repository at no cost.  Do you or your organization have multiple reports or a legacy of archaeological work that you want to see preserved? Please get in touch to learn about the services that Digital Antiquity can provide so you can turn your archaeological materials into a long lasting legacy.

Several resource documentation and survey reports from the Deer Valley Rock Art Center (DVRAC), an educational, interpretive, and research center at Arizona State University (ASU), are now available on tDAR.  These documents are organized in the Deer Valley Rock Art Center Digital Collection within the repository.

The reports describe the rock art now interpreted at the Center and the archaeological investigations that led to DVRAC’s founding in 1994.  Paper copies of the reports and other archives, as well as its research library, are now housed at Center for Archaeology and Society also at ASU. In an effort to both preserve these documents and make them more accessible to rock art researchers, a portion of these records are now available on tDAR.

Currently, the majority of the DVRAC tDAR collection consists of survey and excavation reports related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Adobe Dam Project and New River Dam Project. These include a total of four technical reports on the Adobe Dam site, the Hedgpeth Hills site, and the New River Archaeological Survey, as well as two non-technical reports on the Adobe Dam site and the Hedgpeth Hills site.

The Hedgpeth Hills Rock Art Recording and Investigations project contains documents relating to the rock art recording and investigations that were conducted by J. Simon Bruder during the early 1980s. The documents associated with this project include a synthesis report of fieldwork, field maps of the Hedgpeth Hills, and locality record sheets for each rock art panel.

If you are interested in contributing information about rock art in your research area to tDAR please visit https://www.tdar.org/why-tdar/contribute/.