National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


Digital Antiquity: Transforming Archaeological Data into Knowledge

From the front page of an international initiative to create a digital archaeological record standard (tDAR) and digital repository:

Digital Antiquity is a collaborative organization devoted to enhancing preservation and access to digital records of archaeological investigations in order:

  • to permit scholars to more effectively create and communicate knowledge of the long-term human past;

  • to enhance the management of archaeological resources; and

  • to provide for the long-term preservation of irreplaceable records of archaeological investigations.

Digital Antiquity will establish a financially and socially sustainable, national/international, on-line digital repository that is able to provide preservation, discovery, and access for data and documents produced by archaeological projects. The repository, known as tDAR (for "the Digital Archaeological Record") is set up to encompass digital documents and data derived from ongoing research (more than 50,000 field projects are conducted in the US each year) as well as legacy data collected through more than a century of archaeological research in the Americas. With the active participation of the discipline, this initiative has the potential to transform the practice of archaeology and to revolutionize our knowledge of the past by enabling synthetic and comparative research on a scale that has heretofore been impossible.

With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding, Digital Antiquity staffing will include a full-time Executive Director, two software engineers, a data curator, and clerical staff. In mid-November, Francis P. McManamon began working as the Executive Director. A search for the software lead engineer is underway. The remaining staff will be hired subsequently. Management of Digital Antiquity is overseen by a 12 member Board of Directors and informed by a distinguished external Science Board of professionals in archaeology and computer and information science. Digital Antiquity currently is housed at Arizona State University, as a collaborative effort with the University of Arkansas, the Pennsylvania State University, the SRI Foundation, Washington State University, and the University of York.

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