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.

Since 2004, a national team of faunal analysts has worked together to use and improve the data integration tools of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR). The North American Faunal Working Group (FWG), led by Kate Spielmann, met in at the School of  Human Evolution and Social Change, ASU in Tempe this October to discuss their ongoing work. The FWG is divided provisionally into two parts: the Eastern and Southwestern regional groups. Each group currently is involved in separate pilot studies integrating faunal data sets in tDAR.  The Eastern group suggested several improvements to the tDAR integration tool itself, while the Southwestern group raised a range of challenges to be overcome regarding the coding of faunal data and the importance of their archaeological contexts. The workshop members also are drafting a new National Science Foundation funding proposal to move ahead with synthetic research—integrating faunal data sets from the Eastern and Southwestern regions—using tDAR.

See Kate Spielmann’s profile.

In August the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social and Behavioral Sciences Issued a call for white papers on future research directions as a part of its SBE 2020 Project. Keith Kintigh, Francis P. McManamon and Katherine Spielmann responded to this call with their submission entitled, “Synthesis and Cyberinfrastructure for SBE Research.” Their essay argues for the vital need to invest in social science data digital infrastructure by the NSF. The authors cite vast improvements in synthetic natural science research as the result of massive NSF investment in its infrastructure and synthesis. They note that social sciences have not yet made a similar investment and cannot simply adopt extant natural and physical science infrastructures. Due to the nature of the data, research is needed on appropriate forms of metadata, data integration and synthesis for different types of social, behavioral and economic science data sets.

Get specific! See Kintigh, McManamon and Spielmann’s recommendations here.

Digital Antiquity continually works to improve preservation and management of digital archaeological data. This commitment was instantiated in the first tDAR software release during the Summer of 2010. This initial release, Azimuth, was focused primarily on infrastructure and  data entry issues. Major accomplishments included:

  • Setting up a predictable development and test environment.
  • Developing a Digital Antiquity and tDAR website
  • Unifying the look and feel of the tDAR application and the tDAR website
  • Reviewing the data dictionary for tDAR and simplifying the model
  • Enhancing the data entry screens to optimize a user’s productivity
  • Enabling public access to tDAR metadata without requiring a user to login
  • Consistently displaying all metadata for records to users including metadata inherited from parent projects
  • Adding context-sensitive help to the data entry screens
  • Adding auto-entry (auto-complete) for Authors, Editors, and other personal relationships within tDAR
  • Enhancing general performance
  • Developed auto-suggestion model for mapping ontologies to values within tDAR

The Center for the Study of Architecture (CSA) has published the article, “Digital Antiquity and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR):  Broadening Access and Ensuring Long-Term Preservation for Digital Archaeological Data,” by Francis P McManamon, Keith W. Kintigh, and Adam Brin.

Read the article in the CSA Newsletter, Fall 2010

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

The Archaeology Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has identified the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) as one of two data repositories for researchers to consider in order to fulfil the requirement that proposals include a plan for providing wide access and long-term preservation of data and documents created as part of NSF research grants.

See the NSF’s required Data Management Plan here.

Jim deVos joined Digital Antiquity, and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University, as Software Programmer in late August. DeVos is no stranger to ASU, as he holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering and Applied Science from its College of Engineering and Applied Science. DeVos has also earned certification for diverse software programs and applications. He has a history of software development and maintenance for companies including Honeywell Corporation, DHL Worldwide Express, Quest, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

Learn more about Jim deVos.

Adam Brin joined Digital Antiquity, and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University, as Technology Director in June. Immediately before joining Digital Antiquity Brin was technical program manager for California Digital Libraries, as well as a consultant for Luna Imaging. In his role as consultant, Brin developed an extensive database of NASA images, now housed on the Internet Archive. Brin holds a B.A. from Brown University in Anthropology, with special emphasis on archaeology, and has worked in the field and in laboratory conservation.

Learn more about Adam Brin.