On December 10, 2009 the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a call for comment on how to improve access to the results of federally funded research projects. Digital Antiquity’s Francis McManamon (Executive Director) and Sander van der Leeuw (Chair, Digital Antiquity Board of Directors) responded, stating the importance of increased access to archaeological data collected in the United States—a process reliant on a majority of federal funding. The comment suggested the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) as a tool for increasing knowledge of extant data, for integrating new data, for preserving at-risk data, and for increasing the cost efficiency of federally funded research.

Read the full comment here. Also see the OSTP Call for Comment here.

Dr. Francis P. McManamon

Dr. Francis P. McManamon was hired as Executive Director of Digital Antiquity and as a Research Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University.  He began working on the Digital Antiquity project on 16 November 2009. Dr. McManamon has over thirty years of experience as an archaeologist.  Most of his work has been for the National Park Service, where he began as Chief Regional Archaeologist of the North Atlantic Region. From 1986 to 2009 he worked in the Washington headquarters office of the NPS, and from 1995 until his retirement in November 2009 he was the NPS Chief Archeologist, as well as the Departmental Consulting Archeologist, for the Department of the Interior. He holds an A.B. from Colgate University, as well as a Master’s and Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton.

Learn more about Dr. McManamon

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided a grant of $1.29 million dollars to establish the Digital Antiquity organization and fund the development and maintenance of an international digital repository for archaeological data and documents.  The repository, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), is established and available for search and for contributors who wish to deposit digital archaeological data or documents. Instructions and easy-to-use web interface screens are available at the tDAR website.

In 2007, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Archaeology Data Services at the University of York, Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, the Pennsylvania State University, SRI Foundation, and Washington State University was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to develop a long-term plan for the organization and operation of integrated digital archaeological data repository. This activity led to the creation of an organization, archaeoinformatics.org.  Utilizing their planning grant, the members of archaeoinformatics.org developed detailed plan.

The plan called for development of a user-friendly and attractive but technologically and financially feasible archaeological repository to provide for much wider accessibility to archaeological data and its long-term preservation.  The plan led to the development of a more detailed proposal to the Mellon Foundation for funds to create Digital Antiquity.

Click here for a copy of the 2008 report on the results of the planning grant.

Archaeologists and computer scientists in SHESC and the School of Engineering at ASU were awarded a 3-year grant for the development of a knowledge-based archaeological data integration system. The purpose of the system is to amalgamate long-term archaeological data on society, population, and environment in an easily searchable database, so that scientists across disciplines can utilize important archaeological data sets. This revolutionary project involved a multidisciplinary team of researchers, graduate student assistants and undergraduate interns. One of the outcomes of the research project was the prototype of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) which is the repository further developed and used by Digital Antiquity.

For more information, please see the full 2006 Project Summary.

In July, 2006, Keith Kintigh published an article in American Antiquity entitled, “The Promise and Challenge of Archaeological Data Integration,” reporting on the 2004 the workshop of the same name. Archaeologists, computer scientists and other informatics researchers met at the 2004 workshop to develop a shared vision of archaeological cyberinfrastructure based on new technologies in information integration. The workshop members concluded that a well-planned infrastructure would enable research at greater scales than currently possible by providing more effective access to data. The workshop conclusions also noted that such an infrastructure would protect fragile data while improving documentation.

For more information, check out the full article linked here.

Dean Snow and colleagues Mark Gahegan, Lee Giles, Kenneth Hirth, George Milner, Prasenjit Mitra and James Wang recently published an article in Science about creating an appropriate architecture for entering and managing archaeological data. Their proposed system would integrate image and text searches, GIS analysis, as well as visualization and content management tools. Additionally, their planned use of open-source versions of the toolkit would allow more accessibility by different users, facilitating the addition and use of data.

Read the article online here.