Archaeometry Awards

Target date: December 1

The Archaeology Program recognizes three broad classes of archaeometric proposals: (1) proposals to support laboratories which provide archaeometric services; (2) proposals to develop and refine archaeometric techniques; (3) proposals to apply existing analytic techniques to specific bodies of archaeological materials. "Laboratory support" and "technique development" projects are included within the Archaeometry competition. "Technique application" proposals are best evaluated in a more strictly archaeological context and therefore should be submitted to the "senior" research competition.

Archaeometry proposals are evaluated by outside reviewers selected for specific expertise in the applicant’s subject area and also by a panel composed of both archaeologists to determine potential anthropological contribution and physical scientists to assess technical feasibility. The panel meets annually in either March or April and applicants are invited to contact the Program Director to obtain the panel date and then to inquire about application outcome. During government fiscal years 2010-2012, 13 of 40 applications (33%) received support. The distribution of award size and duration is presented below.

Laboratory support awards provide "core" funding that permits laboratories to increase analytical capacity through the addition and/or replacement of equipment and retention of key personnel. The goal of the awards is to increase the contribution of these laboratories to anthropologically oriented archaeology. Proposals should contain:

  1. A discussion of the laboratory’s specific commitment to solving problems of recognized archaeological significance.
  2. An explicit statement which describes how the laboratory will increase productivity measured in terms of reduced turnaround times and/or increase in the number of samples to be analyzed each year. The applicant should discuss the characteristics of the samples to be processed, the specific technical problems relating to these types of samples and specific techniques utilized to deal with these problems. Past performance should be discussed and quantitative data on output provided.
  3. An explanation of the laboratory’s plan to ensure that it will attract samples of high archaeological interest and quality and a discussion of the criteria employed to select and assign priorities.
  4. A discussion of the current standards of accuracy and precision maintained by the laboratory and how these standards will be continued or augmented.
  5. A statement of existing resources available to the laboratory including current institutional support and projected income, and a discussion of how Foundation support will be used in addition to (rather than in lieu of) presently available funds. Policies and practices with respect to fees should be described. Please note that NSF Important Notice 122 states that "it is contrary to the NSF’s intent for grantees to use NSF-supported research instrumentation or facilities to provide service for a fee in direct competition with private companies that provide equivalent services. "
  6. A listing of all personnel (when known) included in the project and a discussion of the professional training, experience and suitability of each. If personnel are yet to be hired, the requirements for the position should be described.
  7. A justification of the budget for personnel and equipment needed to achieve these basic goals.

Awards are not intended to provide full operational support for a laboratory or to replace funding for ongoing laboratory personnel. Therefore, they will not include such items as the regular salary of a laboratory director. Budget items may include: 12 month salary for a full-time professional laboratory associate at the postdoctoral level, student support, funding for the acquisition of laboratory equipment and expendable supplies, and up to 2 months of full time equivalent salary during the year for the laboratory director to support active collaboration with archaeologists. Laboratories receiving awards will also be permitted to submit "senior" research applications for the support of focused research projects. Applicants may request up to five years of support.

Technique development proposals should follow standard guidelines. In addition to descriptions of the technique and methodology to be employed, the potential significance of the technique to anthropologically oriented archaeological research should be specifically addressed.

NSF Required Data Management Plan
Proposals submitted to NSF must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled "Data Management Plan" (DMP). This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. For more information about this new requirement, please see the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.C.2.j and the Data Management and Sharing Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs). Please note: the SBE Directorate has additional guidance for proposals submitted to SBE programs, please see Data Management for NSF SBE Directorate Proposals and Awards. Questions should be addressed to John Yellen via e-mail ( While the Archaeology Program does not sponsor or have an official arrangement with any data archive it would note that two organizations provide this service.

In addition to the NSF guidance, you may find the guidance provided by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) helpful. Additional resources can be found at the SAA site.

For both types of proposals, applications should be prepared in accordance with the Grant Proposal Guide and submitted electronically through the NSF Fastlane system.

Data from NSF fiscal years 2010 - 2012

Award Duration (months)
Number of Awards


Award Amount
Number of Awards
$0 - $50,000
$50,000 - $100,000
$100,000 - $150,000
$150,000 - $200,000
$200,000 - $250,000
$250,000 - $300,000
$300,000 - $350,000