229B: Archaeological Research Strategies

Instructor: Kent G Lightfoot

Term: Spring 2019

Time: W, 2:00 pm - 4:59 pm

Units: 4

Course Number: 21469

Required for all first and second year graduate students in archaeology. Three hours of seminar discussion of major issues in the history and theory of archaeological research and practice (229A), and of the research strategies and design for various kinds of archaeological problems (229B). To be offered alternate semesters.

Course Description:                                  

This course is the second half of the required year-long seminar for first year graduate students in Anthropological Archaeology. In 229B, our focus will be on the process of conducting archaeological research: how to frame research questions, define specific strategies for creating data appropriate to address those questions, and how to carry out the research in the field and laboratory, including writing a research proposal, negotiating permits and contracts, and defining and writing reports. The emphasis of the seminar is pragmatic, building on the work already accomplished in Anthropology 229A.


For many years now, we have successfully structured 229B around the development of a formal research proposal by each student. Thus, your central product will be a research proposal written according to the standards of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant program. The NSF is the major governmental agency in this country that regularly funds archaeological research, both at the senior and doctoral levels. The ability to present a fundable research proposal to the NSF is not only a pragmatic necessity for most archaeologists; it can serve as a model to develop proposals for other funding sources. During the seminar, we will consider how the basic pieces required for an NSF proposal can be adjusted to assemble proposals for these alternative sources. But most importantly, the exercise of thinking through a proposed research project—from defining the broad anthropological question, to working out specific objectives and developing a plan and budget—is essential in learning to become a practicing archaeologist.


To the extent possible at this stage in your graduate career, the NSF proposal that you develop in this seminar should reflect your actual dissertation research plans. Thus, in this seminar you will not only gain knowledge about how to write a proposal, but you will have the opportunity to define and think through research that you actually intend to conduct as part of your graduate program at Berkeley. A significant number of our past students have turned the NSF proposals they developed in 229B into actual proposals submitted to NSF or other agencies, which have then funded their doctoral research.


In addition to the work on your NSF proposal, the seminar is structured around a set of topical readings, which we will discuss in class. Everyone is expected to do the required readings in advance of class and to participate in the discussion