Anthropology Colloquia Series: Dr. Keith Kintigh Presents Archaeological Data: Uniquely Informative but Complex, Fragile, and Underutilized


Start Date: Jan 17, 2019 - 03:30pm

Location: Hibben 105

The Department of Anthropology Colloquium series will feature Dr. Keith Kintigh, professor of Anthropology at the Arizona State University School of Human Evolution & Social Change, who will present his talk Archaeological Data:  Uniquely Informative but Complex, Fragile, and Underutilized on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm in Hibben 105. 

This presentation explores the nature, treatment, preservation, and exploitation of archaeological data.  Over the last century we’ve generated lots of data, at enormous cost—the US now spends about $1B/year on cultural heritage management. You will undoubtedly agree that our data are uniquely informative.  However, Dr. Kintigh also argues that generally, we haven’t been responsible in making our data accessible or preserving it for others to use, nor have we lived up to our obligations to science or the public to exploit these data to anything like their potential. While there is much to be done, Dr. Kintigh will briefly discuss two initiatives designed to help address these issues:  tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), which is concerned with preserving data and making it accessible and useable in research; and a complementary effort, and the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis, which is concerned with exploiting those data to advance science and benefit society. 

Dr. Kintigh will provide an ex post facto argument for why archaeological synthesis and digital data access and preservation are important, and will briefly describe how those initiatives serve to address the issues identified above. In addition, Dr. Kintigh provides a complementary, more personal and highly contingent historical account of the events and circumstances that led to these initiatives which may also contain some useful lessons.

Dr. Keith Kintigh is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, where he has taught since 1987.  His field research has focused on organization of ancestral Pueblo societies on and around the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico. Throughout his career, Kintigh has published on quantitative methods tailored to archaeological problems, with particular focus on spatial analysis and the analysis of archaeological diversity.  Starting in 1999, he led a team of archaeologists and computer and information scientists in developing tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), a sustainable repository and research data management engine for the digital records of archaeological investigations.  With Jeffrey Altschul, Kintigh has worked toward the advancement of synthetic research in archaeology and serves, with Altschul, as co-president of the newly-formed Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis.  Kintigh has been a member of a transdisciplinary team of ASU colleagues that, with NSF support, has worked to understand vulnerability and transformation in coupled socio-ecological systems through a synthesis of data from several prehistoric cases in the Southwest U.S. and northern Mexico. Kintigh is a past president of the Society for American Archaeology (1999-2001) and, in various capacities for SAA, has worked extensively on national law and policy regarding the repatriation of Native American human remains. Kintigh earned a BA in Sociology and an MS in Computer Science at Stanford University in 1974 and a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1982.