Digital Curation of the Basketmaker Communities Project Data

Current Project

January–December, 2021

Digital Curation of the Basketmaker Communities Project Data seeks to archive and make available a comprehensive database of the Basketmaker Community Project (BCP). The project has two primary components, the combined impact of which will be to take full advantage of the investment in this important project while permanently archiving BCP data and making them available to more stakeholders in an easy-to-use yet secure format. 

The first component of this study will be the compilation of a comprehensive data set for the BCP. Though the project focused on the Basketmaker III period (A.D. 500 to 750) data included in this dataset will represent human activity in southwestern Colorado from A.D. 420 to A.D. 1280. The archive will begin as a series of queries of the database to provide the core and contextual data. Photographs of all Study Units (structures and contexts) will be selected and prepared for transfer to the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR—see below). All digital maps for the BCP sites will also be prepared for transfer to tDAR. The number of digital maps varies by site but for the Dillard Great Kiva site (5MT10647) there are 105 digital maps that will be transferred.

Though this is only a portion of the overall Crow Canyon dataset, creating a comprehensive archive on tDAR will include submitting 216 digital maps, at least 4,600 photos, the final report for the project, at least four spreadsheets containing the core data discussed and interpreted in the reports (i.e., feature data, field specimen data, provenience designations and study unit data) and up to 98 tables of descriptive metadata relating to photos and maps. All of these data pertain to the 33 archaeological sites assessed or investigated as part of the BCP (most of which are included in the Indian Camp Ranch Archaeological District listed on the National Register of Historic Places).  

Deliverables include the queries containing the core contextual and provenience data of artifacts, all digital maps grouped by site, and selected photos of all sites. Also included will be tables of descriptive metadata contextualizing the files themselves. 

In the second component of the project, all compiled digital materials including the final report, maps, photos and core data will be uploaded to tDAR. The Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) is an international repository for the digital records of archaeological investigations. tDAR’s use, development, and maintenance are governed by Digital Antiquity, an organization dedicated to ensuring the long-term preservation of irreplaceable archaeological data and to broadening the access to these data. 

 

Public Benefit and Strategic Goals

There is strong and consistent public support for greater access to archaeological data and interpretations resulting from public funding. This project and derivative research resulting from access to the archive may serve to further connect contemporary Pueblo communities to their ancestral homelands and material culture. The scientific community and general public are deeply supportive of further research concerning the earliest agriculturists in Colorado (see letters of support). As one example of this, an episode of the Time Team America series on PBS showcased the BCP project and brought the archaeology of Colorado to a national audience.

That episode highlighted the scientific value of the project and demonstrated the benefit of public and professional partnerships in answering questions about the past. That collaboration with PBS resulted in increased public interest in and support for the BCP. This proposed project would follow through on that support by making the data displayed in the episode more easily accessible to stakeholders.

Excavation or other campus-based Crow Canyon programs that discussed or dealt directly with the BCP included at least 6,144 members of the public ranging from school age children through adults. Sixty-eight college age students participated in the project as interns learning both about the archaeology of Colorado and the process and practice of archaeology. Partnerships with external organizations like Earth Watch also exposed citizen scientists to the archaeology of Colorado. The BCP was chosen as the best expedition offered by Earthwatch in 2016 by volunteers participating in the program. The benefit to the public and interested avocational archaeologists outlined by these metrics speaks for itself and reinforces the need to make the data archive generated from the project more readily accessible.

Native educators and students also participated in Crow Canyon’s experiential education programs during the BCP and these communities would be served by enhanced access to project data. Native peoples participated in the BCP through both the standard Crow Canyon programs and sponsored projects such as the Pueblo Pathways Project, Brave Girls, Time Team America Field School, Futures for Children, Zuni Youth Enrichment Program, and the Summer Arts and Archaeology Program. Native participants were affiliated with a wide variety of Pueblos and Tribes, including Santa Ana Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, Nambé Pueblo, Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Zia, Laguna, Navajo, Apache, and Oglala Sioux. This project would provide these key stakeholders with more direct access to data about their past.

This project is also important to scientists and the state of Colorado for several other reasons. This project will enable groundbreaking new studies of the processes of the adoption of agriculture; this potential research will help elucidate why maize farmers were relatively late arrivals to the central Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado. This project will allow for more complete interpretations of the past to be told at museums and parks and will enhance the educational and cultural value of heritage tourism in Colorado. By demonstrating the knowledge that may be gained from access to digital archaeological data, this project will also further a preservation message. It will demonstrate the importance of well-organized and documented collections, and their utility for future studies. Crow Canyon has already received requests for BCP data to be used for graduate level studies illustrating the need for this type of accessible archive moving forward. Ultimately, this project will increase support for public investments in digital curation as an essential part of historic preservation and project planning.

The core deliverable of the project will be a publicly accessible and secure digital archive of the BCP. The archive will have map, photo, report and tabular download capabilities and will enable non-sensitive data to be downloaded for further analysis. Credentialed individuals will be able to contact Crow Canyon for access to the complete archive.

The History Colorado State Historical Fund is a primary supporter of this archive.

Project Details