Week 3.docx - Let's Get Started First Steps in Archaeological Research In the last module we looked at issues of site formation processes or the

Week 3.docx - Let's Get Started First Steps in...

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Let's Get Started: First Steps in Archaeological Research In the last module, we looked at issues of site formation processes, or the different ways in which archaeological remains do (or do not) preserve over time. This is important to fully understand so that we can appreciate the work that goes in to even locating many archaeological sites! It’s certainly one thing if a site consists of a lot of above-ground monumental architecture—the existence of the site may already be known. But for a large amount of archaeological research, the initial field research consists of locating archaeological remains in the first place. How a project gets started Before this, however, we must ask why an archaeologist is doing research. There are several reasons for conducting an archaeological investigation. The first is purely research-based . In this case, an archaeologist has a question they wish to answer or hypothesis to test regarding a previously known site, a suspected site location, or general cultural area that may contain archaeological remains. In these cases, the archaeologist typically goes through a series of steps to get their project off the ground--archaeological research projects must be funded somehow! First, they must devise a specific research strategy , written up in the form of a research proposal . This proposal is sent to various agencies that fund archaeological projects, such as the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, National Geographic, Fulbright, Ford Foundation, and so forth. Typically, these agencies send out the proposals to other academic researchers to assess—Does the proposed project have scholarly merit— that is to say, are you seeking to answer meaningful questions? Are the proposed strategies and methods sound —will you be able to answer your questions with the data you want to collect? Can the project be completed in the time frame and with the funds the researcher is proposing? The (anonymous) reviewers will make comments and rate the proposal, often using the following categories: Accept , Revise and Resubmit , or Reject . If the process goes well and the proposal is accepted (recommended for funding), this phase may only take a year! Revising and resubmitting a proposal will extend the process by 6-12 months. A rejection means back to the drawing board and a year or more of planning. The previous paragraph describes academic research . This is conducted by people who have affiliations with research centers or, more commonly, colleges and universities. However, there is another important realm of archaeological research— Cultural Resource Management , or CRM for short. Any time a construction or development project occurs, Cultural Resource Management firms are hired do research and possibly archaeological testing, to determine whether any historical or
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archaeological sites will be affected by the proposed construction. Based on the assessment by CRM, if sites are present, salvage projects may be proposed to recover archaeological remains, or in some cases,
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  • Spring '14
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