The last 50 years have witnessed an explosion in the number and size of archaeological investigations, resulting in hundreds of thousands of grey literature reports that provide the only source of consistently produced documentation of these projects. Our success in using these reports to address archaeology’s important questions, however, hinges on our capacity for data sharing and synthesis (Kintigh et al. 2014b). Current attempts at synthesis are frustrated by an inability to discover or access relevant documents, by the lack of a preservation pathway for vast amounts of literature in danger of loss, and by the utter inadequacy of our methods for synthesizing texts.

Addressing these problems requires the development of comprehensive regional or topical digital collections and the application of computational tools that allow scholars to exploit those collections. Through this grant, we will develop a comprehensive digital corpus of archaeological information for the Huhugam (formerly Hohokam) area of the Southwest US—one of the most intensively investigated areas in the world—and implement digital humanities text processing methods specifically targeted to improve its exploration and research use. We believe that this grant will enable transformative research that will enormously advance our understanding of Huhugam society. In doing so, it will validate and illustrate an innovative path for future synthetic research on other archaeological areas and topics. It will also contribute to protecting our cultural heritage through preservation of endangered documents.

The proposed Digital Archive of Huhugam Archaeology (DAHA) is a research collection that will include digital copies of a large fraction of major archaeological reports relating to the Huhugam “culture” of central and southern Arizona. The Huhugam culture is notable for its enormous irrigation systems, its large, sustainable towns, and its market-based exchange of specialist-produced ceramics.

DAHA will be curated and made accessible through tDAR, the Digital Archaeological Record, an established national and international disciplinary repository operated by Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Center for Digital Antiquity. tDAR has a global scope, it maintains rich metadata on each file, provides sophisticated discovery and access, and pursues a robust program of long-term digital preservation. It maintains and indexes the full text of documents and search engines index its holdings.

Building on more than 200 Huhugam-related documents already in tDAR, this grant will identify and acquire the relevant reports, digitize and OCR them (as needed), upload them into tDAR, and document them with extensive metadata. The result will be a comprehensive corpus of research materials –approximately 1,600 reports with 400,000 pages—all online, discoverable, and freely accessible to all through tDAR’s existing infrastructure. The corpus, notably, will include the full text of about 100 seminal books, reports, and manuscripts from the Amerind Foundation Library and Archive. Further, we will implement a software interface that enables users to explore, analyze, and visualize the DAHA texts using established digital humanities methods.

The grant will fund a crowd-sourcing effort designed to understand the needs of DAHA’s diverse user communities. An initial workshop of digital humanities and Native American scholars and Huhugam archaeologists will explore new research opportunities the collection would offer and will guide the grant’s implementation of enhanced text analysis tools. At the end of the grant, this same group will explore and evaluate DAHA as a way of stimulating the new kinds of research the archive enables. Through DAHA, Indigenous communities will gain access to a wealth of archaeological research done on ancestral populations. Finally, we will perform process and outcome evaluations of the project and produce a case study report.