15 June, 2014

Project Funding

I’m writing a book and one of the lead characters is a professor of Archaeology. He needs funding for a project coming up one year from now. I’m assuming he would work with a museum or university and maybe have a fund raiser? Try to find wealthy contributers or maybe celebrities to attend the fund raiser? Any advice or insight is apreciated. And so today I found out that… Archaeologists in academia are funded primarily through grants. In the US, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is one such public grant agency. The amounts funded are typically fairly small, however the archaeologist gets to choose what he wants to research and where. In contract, archaeologists in the private sector are typically funded through contracts from developers or land management agencies (like the Bureau of Land Management) who are required to comply with environmental protection laws. In these cases, the archaeologist does not get to choose where he works, but funding is significantly more generous, often involving dozens of people for months of field work. If you are writing about professional archaeologists, I advise that you contact one and go talk to them. You will learn in one hour more than you ever could on the internet and your writing will be much stronger.

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  1. Terry Terrence June 12, 2014 at 3:27 am #
    Archaeology research tends to be funded from grants through institutions like universities and government and cultural agencies. Some, especially in the US, is mandated by Federal laws. If a large area of previously undeveloped land in the public domain is going to be disturbed by a project there are requirements that overall archaeological surveys have to take place and any valuable sites that are found be inventoried and/or investigated so they will not be lost. In such cases the owner or developer of the project must include paying for the excavation or survey as part of their investment expense. There are also some organizations like Earthwatch that provide some funding and volunteer staffing for archaeological (and other) research expeditions, in return for receiving some of the money that is paid by the volunteers to participate. I paid to work on a dig in Wyoming some years ago that was funded in part over several seasons by Earthwatch money. I'm not aware of a recent major archaeological excavations that were financed entirely by fund raisers, though I know there have been some contributions collected like that for high-profile or popular investigations. There have always been wealthy patrons for such research (such as Lord Carnavon, whoever financed Howard Carter in discovering the tomb of Tutankhamen), but they are not as common today. For one thing, modern antiquities laws do not allow individuals to keep items recovered in most digs or profit from them since they are considered cultural object in the public domain. So there is less incentive for the wealthy to support such things, though some still do out of charity or genuine interest in Science.