With support from the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, our team of university, public, and private sector researchers is developing protocols to integrate archaeological information from large areas of North America into a unified database, and make these capabilities available to a wide variety of scholarly, resource management, and public audiences. The primary team consists of Dr. David G. Anderson and Mr. Stephen Yerka of the University of Tennessee, Dr. Eric Kansa of Open Context & the UC Berkeley School of Information, Dr. Sarah Whitcher Kansa of the Alexandria Archive Institute, and Dr. Joshua Wells of Indiana University South Bend. Researchers and land managers at a number of state and federal agencies, public and private universities, and private companies are assisting in this effort, both by providing information and evaluating how it may be best used for research and management purposes.
Efforts to collect and compile archaeological data have a long history, and information about archaeological sites and collections is maintained by every state and territory. Only rarely, however, have these data been compiled and examined at large geographic scales, especially those crosscutting state lines, and never to the extent and for the research and management purposes proposed in this project. We have integrated data from some 15 to 20 states (>half a million sites) east of the Mississippi using an informatics framework that promotes extensions and reuse by government personnel in state and federal agencies, and domestic and international researchers.
DINAA works to link disconnected and incompatible data systems in such a way that the combined data are useful for important scientific research. Linkage of site file and other datasets can facilitate studies of past human adaptation spanning large areas, and lead to greater collaboration between archaeologists and scientists in other disciplines. As examples, the linkage of archaeological data at broad new scales will permit, for the first time, the exploration of exciting new research topics, such as how the human populations in North America responded to climate change, population growth, and/or anthropogenic environmental issues over the past 13,000 years. The availability of output online in the form of maps and data tables (at significantly reduced spatial resolution, to protect sensitive locations) enhances public awareness, education, and appreciation for scientific research and archaeology. The demonstration that primary archaeological data can be integrated and used to address fundamental questions at such scales will stimulate similar efforts worldwide.