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.

Thursday, April 19th marks the 10-year anniversary of the first record appearing in tDAR so this week we are celebrating here in the office, and we want to bring our users and contributors along to celebrate with us.  We are pleased to introduce the new Digital Antiquity Instagram account (@digitalantiquity), and will have multiple opportunities for our followers on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram to participate and win prizes.

Many tDAR users may not know that the repository was born as a side project to a major data synthesis challenge.  Specifically, once someone had gone through the effort to track down and digitize data from across a region, how can these data be made more easily available to the next researcher?   Led by Keith Kintigh, Kate Spielmann, and K. Selçuk Candan, a group of 31 researchers met to develop recommendations for the discipline’s need for digital infrastructure to support synthetic research.  tDAR was born out of these recommendations.  Read more about the early history of Digital Antiquity and tDAR over on the tDAR website.

It seems appropriate then, that one of Kintigh’s other endeavors, the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis just awarded its first awards last week during the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Washington DC.  Synthesis remains a challenge in archaeology, but tools like tDAR (and ADS, Open Context, and others) are providing the infrastructure to support this important work.  Congratulations to the team at Digital Antiquity and happy birthday tDAR!

We are gearing up for a busy week in DC at the 83rd Annual Society for American Archaeology meetings, and we hope to see you there!  We’ll be in the exhibit hall all week ready to discuss digital preservation, access and all things tDAR.  Please stop by and bring us your questions, or just say hi.  We also will have a full schedule of workshops, presentations, posters and forums and we encourage you to attend.  You may also schedule time to sit down with one of us to go over your digital archiving questions and explore tDAR.  Please email to schedule an appointment today!

Monday April  9th, 2018

Digital Antiquity staff arrive in Washington DC.  If you would like to set up a meeting to discuss your digital archiving needs we are available to meet with you.


Tuesday April 10th, 2018

Available for meetings


Wednesday April 11th, 2018

Workshop: “Best Practices for Digital Data Management and Curation” 

Room: Madison B

Time:  1:00PM – 5:00PM

Leigh Anne Ellison and Francis P. McManamon, workshop leaders


Thursday April 12th, 2018

Digital Antiquity Booth

Room: Exhibit Hall A, #800

Time: 10:00AM – 5:00PM

Forum: “Bears Ears, the Antiquities Act, and the Status of our National Monument”

Room: Marriott Salon 2

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Francis P. McManamon, discussant


Friday April 13th, 2018

Digital Antiquity Booth

Room: Exhibit Hall A, #800

Time: 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Symposium: “At-Risk World Heritage and the Digital Humanities”

Paper: The Digital Archaeology Record (tDAR): An Archive for 21st Century Digital Curation

Room: Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East

Time: 8:00AM – 11:30PM (9:15)

Francis P. McManamon and Leigh Anne Ellison

Veterans Curation Program Lab Open House

Location: 816 N St Asaph St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM


Saturday April 14th, 2018

Digital Antiquity Booth

Room: Exhibit Hall A, #800

Time: 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Poster Session: “Digital Archaeology: Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing, and Drones”

Room: Exhibit Hall B South, 238-i

Time: 8:00AM – 10:00AM

Rachel Fernandez and Leigh Anne Ellison

Electronic Symposium: “Futures and Challenges in Government Digital Archaeology”

Paper: “Sharing Curation Expertise and Space for Digital Archaeological Data”

Room: Delaware B

Time: 8:00AM – 10:00AM

Leigh Anne Ellison and Francis P. McManamon

Workshop: “Using tDAR: A workshop for SAA Members Benefiting from the SAA-Center for Digital Antiquity Good Digital Curation Agreement,” [Workshop Full]

Room: Madison A

Time: 9:00AM – 10:30AM

Leigh Anne Ellison, workshop leader

Forum: “In the Eyes of the Law: Contextualizing Archaeological Legislation Through Time and Space”

Room: Washington Room 5

Time: 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Francis P. McManamon, Discussant


Safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C. soon!

Digital Antiquity is pleased to announce Quartz, tDAR’s 18th major release.   This release focuses on enhancing collections, email, and other smaller enhancements.

New tools for creating and managing collections:

Resources owners now have new and easier ways to manage their collections. We we have made a number of changes to ease the management and creation of collections.

First, from the resource page, you can now click the “add to collection” button and quickly add a resource to a collection from there.

Second, the collection edit page now makes it a bit easier to both see everything in a collection and add/remove items from it.

Other features:

  • New type of Document: We’ve added a long-requested type of document “Report.” This new document type allows contributors to identify archaeological reports in tDAR and to distinguish them from “books” or “other materials.” If you have contributed materials to tDAR in the past, this feature is now available to you.  If you have a large number of reports that should be converted, please contact us.
  • Pretty emails from tDAR: All of the emails from tDAR are now easier to read, and cleaner.
  • A ton of smaller bug fixes and performance enhancements.



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 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 curation 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 January 24, 2018.


We had a busy year in 2017, tDAR continued to grow with significant contributions from a number of organizations. tDAR had one major software release, Prehistoric, which unified search across collections, resources, and data integrations, and simplified rights and permissions.

Content added to tDAR in 2017

Resource Statistics


Repository Size

Usage Statistics

While we do not maintain detailed statistics on users or use to protect user and contributor privacy, we can share some interesting aggregate data. Below are the most frequently viewed and downloaded resources.

Popular Resources

These include the most viewed resources in tDAR.

Popular Downloads

These were the most downloaded files from tDAR.

Material Types (most used)

Other Keywords (most used)

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.