Regular updates to the tDAR software comprise an integral part of Digital Antiquity’s commitment to digital archaeological data preservation. The Eolian release of tDAR (late Spring/early Summer 2011) includes new resource types and powerful tools, significant improvements to file upload and management, and a focus on increasing usability. The update includes the following primary components:
  • Sensory Data resource type (new)
  • New API to add and update records in tDAR
  • Batch Upload Tool (new)
  • Better management of confidential resources
  • File replacement (new)
  • Improved page loading performance
  • Improved dataset and ontology replacement
  • Autocomplete expanded to all keyword fields
  • Improved validation and help text
  • Faceted search results page
  • Improved ontology display

The Digital Antiquity tDAR Grants Program has received a wide range of grant proposals for digital archaeological data preservation and curation projects.  Proposals have been submitted by CRM firms, public agencies, and academic and research organizations.

The evaluation of received proposals is underway and awards will be announced as proposals are approved.

Proposals are still being accepted and will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.  To enter a proposal, please review the guidelines for preparation and submission on the Digital Antiquity web page.

Archaeology Data Service (ADS) in the UK and Digital Antiquity in the US are collaborating to revise and improve the current Guides to Good Practice, which contain recommended measures for the preservation and curation of digital data. Although only certain sections of the six Guides are currently publicly available, ADS and Digital Antiquity invite revision and comments by archaeologists and other data professionals.

The new Guides are expected to be released later in 2011.

On February 22-23, 2011, Digital Antiquity and the SRI Foundation sponsored a workshop on archaeological information management.  Participants included representatives of many U. S. agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Land Management, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the U. S.  Air Force, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, and the U. S. Army.  Also participating were current and past officials of the State Historic Preservation Offices of Georgia, Maryland, and Texas and two representatives of national CRM firms.

Participants reviewed the current status of archaeological information management, in particular how digital data and documents can be accessed and how they are preserved for future use.    Attendees agreed on the importance of preservation and curation facilities for digital archaeological data and the challenges of access, preservation, and management.  Participants considered how Digital Antiquity and tDAR could be useful to help their organizations meet data access and preservation needs.  Participants also drafted an action plan to improve the current state of digital archaeological data preservation and management.  Digital Antiquity will work directly with various organizations on implementation of the work plan.

On March 2, the Digital Data Interest Group (DDIG) released its annual report to the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). The report summarizes advances in digital data curation, including the new NSF requirement for data management plans and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy call for comment on a possible requirement that publicly funded research results be publicly accessible.

The report also highlights tDAR and Open Context as digital data resources, the former as a repository and the latter as a publication venue. To view the full context of the report, check it out on Digging Digitally, the official DDIG blog.

Come see us at the Society for American Archaeology’s 76th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California from March 30 – April 3, 2011. Digital Antiquity will be at Booth 126 in the Exhibition hall. Additionally, members of the Digital Antiquity staff will be participating or chairing several fora:

  • Planning for Archaeological Digital Data Management: Digital Antiquity and Open Context have organized a forum for archaeologists to discuss planning for access to and preservation of  digital archaeological data and documents.  Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) mandated that proposals include a “data management plan” in order to be considered for funding.  The objective of this requirement is to ensure that NSF-generated data be more accessible and preserved for future uses.  The ultimate goal is to broaden research opportunities by making access to NSF-generated data easier.  The requirement represents a challenge to grant seekers not familiar with the conceptual and technical issues of data sharing and long-term preservation.  To help SAA members better understand NSF’s requirement and how to address it, this forum will introduce guides to best practice in digital data management and two archaeological digital data management systems, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), maintained by Digital Antiquity and Open Context, maintained by the Alexandria Archive.
  • Using the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) for Management and Research: Increasingly archaeological information about archaeological resources exists in digital formats.  Digital data present both opportunities and challenges.  If effectively archived, digital data are more easily accessed, searched, and shared than paper records.  Yet digital data are more fragile and frequently treated as paper documents, making them completely inaccessible and easily destroyed or forgotten.  There are efforts underway to improve such situations.  Presenters will provide summaries of archival projects, examples of comparative studies using digital data integration tools, the state of digital data access and preservation, copyright and intellectual property issues, and general guidelines about digital data access and preservation.
  • Mortuary Practices in the American Southwest: The study of prehistoric mortuary practices in the American Southwest is undergoing tremendous change in the new millennium. The challenges (and opportunities) of NAGPRA implementation, declines in the number of large samples being excavated, and loss of data from previously excavated samples have altered mortuary archaeology in the region. Given this state of affairs, the development of an integrated regional database of prehistoric mortuary practices is imperative. This session at the 76th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, CA is devoted to the first stages of creating such a data set. Participants in the session will develop the frameworks and structures for building a regional mortuary database. The database that is developed will expand the potential for research with existing and future burial samples.

To learn more about the Digital Antiquity forums and other events at the 76th Annual SAA Meeting, read the collection of abstracts. A list of other sessions related to digital archaeology and data is available on the Digging Digitally blog.

We hope to see you there!  Visit the Digital Antiquity exhibit and say “hello.”

Principle investigators Keith Kintigh and K. Selçuk Candan recently secured a NSF Information Integration and Informatics small project grant for their proposal, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Empowering the User with User-Driven Integration.” Responding to the inefficiency of current schemes, which sacrifice possible data uses in order to produce early integration, User-Driven Integration (UDI) is an approach that takes advantage of expert opinions from the users of integrated data. Scientists and decision-makers have different needs and expectations from data integration operations, and their input will improve data management in complex systems.

UDI also benefits students: undergraduate Honors capstone projects and graduate computer science courses will be formed to test and improve the approach. tDAR data structure is in line with the UDI approach, which values user feedback over structured data, integrating dynamic and variable data sets which may mesh in a variety of ways.

Digital Antiquity is developing a grants program to support the archiving of digital archaeological data and documents in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), a new international digital repository.  Reports and data shared through tDAR are made accessible to the public on the web and their long-term preservation is ensured.

CRM firms, public agencies, individuals, universities, colleges, and other organizations are invited to submit brief proposals explaining the value of the information to be contributed.  A wide array of projects will be considered, such as individual projects, regional archives, and thematic research.  Grants will be awarded in two categories:  up to $ 2,000, and up to $ 10,000.  We anticipate making approximately 40 awards.  Rapid review of proposals will begin on 25 February 2011 and continue until until funds are committed.

Specific criteria and instructions will be made available by mid-December at http//digitalantiquity.org/grants.

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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.

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