The continuing disappearance of America’s archaeological data

By

Mikala Kass

Most archaeological fieldwork in the U.S. is federally mandated for historic preservation. That means that the agencies doing that fieldwork are legally required to make the data from their findings public.

As ASU Professor Keith Kintigh of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change points out in his op-ed piece, however, that information rarely makes it into the hands of the American people or other researchers. And what little data is stored is often done so in a way that gives it a limited lifespan.

“Government agencies are responsible for appropriately managing sites for their scientific, cultural and educational values,” he said. “But to do so effectively, they must have access to full documentation of past investigations.”

Kintigh argues that the best way to accomplish this is by preserving the data on publicly available, online databases, such as the Digital Archaeological Record he helped develop. Such resources ensure that the precious archaeological information is usable to scientists, historians, descendant communities and average citizens for future decades.

Read the full article to learn more.