Digital Antiquity and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR): Broadening Access and Ensuring Long-Term Preservation for Digital Archaeological Data

Author(s): Francis McManamon; Keith Kintigh; adam brin

Year: 2010


Digital Antiquity was established in 2009 as an organization with two primary goals. One goal is to expand dramatically access to digital files related to a wide range of archaeological investigations and topics, e.g., archives and collections; field studies of various scales and intensities; and historical, methodological, synthetic, or theoretical studies (Digital Antiquity 2010). In order to accomplish this goal, Digital Antiquity maintains a repository for digital archaeological data.

The repository, known as the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) is accessible broadly. Through a web interface users worldwide are able to discover data and documents relevant to their interests. Individuals and organizations may contribute archaeological digital data to the repository by uploading their own data and documents and creating appropriate metadata for the digital objects they contribute. Users who register and agree to adhere to a set of conditions regarding appropriate use of data and recognition of the data depositors may download documents and data sets. The wider access provided to a richer array of documents and databases permits scholars to develop interpretations and communicate knowledge of the historic and long-term human past more effectively. This broader access also enhances the management and preservation of archaeological resources.

Browsing or searching the tDAR repository enables users to identify digital documents, data sets, images, and other kinds of archaeological data for research, learning, teaching, and simply to satisfy their own curiosity about the past as revealed by archaeological research and interpretations. The tDAR repository permits registered users to download data files, while maintaining the confidentiality of legally protected information and the privacy of digital resources on which contributing researchers still are working. The tDAR repository provides researchers with new avenues to discover and integrate information relevant to topics they are studying. Currently users can search tDAR for digital documents, spreadsheets, and data sets. In the near future, images also will be available and, ultimately, other digital file types, for example GIS, GPS, CAD, 3D images and other data resources from archaeological projects spanning the globe. For data sets, users also can use data integration tools in tDAR to simplify and illuminate comparative research.

The second major goal of Digital Antiquity is the long-term preservation of the data contributed to tDAR. Digital Antiquity is dedicated to ensuring the long-term preservation of digital archaeological data through procedures that check file integrity and correct any deterioration over time. Our procedures also provide for migration of data file formats from current standard types to new file standards as software and hardware computer technology develops. We aspire to meet the criteria for trusted digital repositories (OCLC and CRL 2007), which are required in order to ensure the long-term preservation and continued access to archived data. In the case of archaeological data, which document the archaeological record, the digital files encapsulate the combined efforts of the archaeological and scientific community, the public and private funds used to carry out research, as well as descriptions and analyses of the material from the ancient and historical cultures studied.

As part of our commitment to long-term preservation, our strategy for the tDAR repository includes growth and improvement. We conduct regular maintenance and develop enhancements of different aspects of our procedures, repository functions, and user interface. These improvements are being planned in cooperation with an advisory team including archaeologists, supporting agencies, preservation experts, and staff to incorporate advances in research methods, digital preservation, and technology.

Cite this Record

Digital Antiquity and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR): Broadening Access and Ensuring Long-Term Preservation for Digital Archaeological Data. Francis McManamon, Keith Kintigh, adam brin. . 23 (2). 2010 ( tDAR id: 376847) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8KS6QT2

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections



Investigation Types
Heritage Management

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Francis McManamon

File Information

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2010-csa-newsletter_-digital-antiquity-and-tdar.pdf 243.84kb Aug 1, 2012 1:39:53 PM Public