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Arizona and New Mexico Scholars Partner to Create Archaeological Site Record Processing Software

Sean Bergin of Arizona State University (ASU) and Grant Snitker of the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) recently published details about their open-source software package in the Advances in Archaeological Practice journal. Entitled ArchaeoSRP: An R Package for Extracting and Synthesizing Federal Cultural Resources Data for Research and Management, the journal article explains how to utilize Bergin and Snitker’s software called ArchaeoSRP to extract, organize, and synthesize district-level archaeological data from a very large U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service database.

“Our software package allows researchers to look for land use patterns from archaeological survey data that spans multiple decades,” said Bergin, an assistant research professor at ASU’s School of Complex Adaptive Systems.”This software allows us to access information that is often buried in the gray literature.”  

The paper explains how to use the ArchaeoSRP R package by showcasing data from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, which spans 3.8 million acres along the eastern slopes of Washington state’s Cascade Range. Specifically, the case study examined the Cle Elum Ranger District, which encompasses more than 400,000 acres within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. 

“Our case study used archaeological information extracted from 770 site forms map changes in land use across the district,” explained Snitker, a research scientist and director of Cultural Resource Sciences at NMC. “With ArchaeoSRP, users are able to use previous archaeological data to obtain a clearer view of the history of the area.” 

Because the USDA Forest Service includes more than 230 million acres of land, the task of synthesizing legacy archaeological data presents challenges. The researchers said that ArchaeoSRP has the potential to improve how scientists access, synthesize, and interpret large sets of archaeological data.

“Our goal with ArchaeoSRP was to create software that allows scientists to access and sort through previously recorded archaeological datasets,” Bergin said. “Feedback from users will be important as we would like to expand ArchaeoSRP to include additional public lands in North America.”

The R package is available on Bergin’s Github.

The work was supported by the USDA Forest Service Research Participation Program administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through an interagency agreement between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the USDA. ORISE is managed by ORAU under DOE contract number DE-SC0014664.


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