Program Description

The Society for Archaeological Sciences (SAS) invites applications for the SAS Student and Early Career Researcher (ERC) Research Support Award. This award is designed to support research activities and dissemination conducted by student and early career members, including laboratory and fieldwork expenses, as well as presentations at conferences, symposia and workshops.


  • The applicants must be either graduate students (Master's or Doctoral) or early career researchers. In the latter case, they must have been awarded their PhD within the previous eight years at the time of application. Exceptions may be made for the applicants with a career break, such as but not limited to parental leave, long-term illness or disability, or national service. The circumstances for exceptions must be clearly indicated in the application.
  • The award is only open to graduate students and early career researchers who are current dues-paid members of The Society for Archaeological Sciences at the time of application.

Application Procedure

  • Applications for the award and recommendation letters should be submitted by February 16, 2024 and must be received before the analyses and field research described in the proposal take place.
  • Eligible expenses for this award include laboratory analytical fees and consumables, software licenses, imagery and geospatial products, delivery costs (for mailing the samples through reliable couriers), fieldwork and research travel expenses, including transportation and accommodation costs and consumables for field research (excluding food supplies).
  • An application should consist of
    • a standard curriculum vitae of the graduate student/early career researcher
    • a (max.) two-page proposal describing the research objectives and methodology, the justification of budget, and plans for disseminating the results
    • additional documentation as necessary e.g., an agreement with the laboratory where analyses will be carried out in form of email correspondence or other written documentation; the applicable permits indicating that you are allowed to carry out field research; confirmation of conference registration/presentation.
  • Applications should be addressed to the SAS President ( and sent via e-mail as combined pdf (with the following order: CV, research proposal, additional documentation) to the SAS General Secretary (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Letter of Reference: Applications should be supported by one recommendation letter from the academic/professional supervisor of the applicant. Reference letters must be sent directly to the SAS General Secretary (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by the relevant deadline. 
  • Potential applicants may contact Camilla Speller, SAS President (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for further information. 

Evaluation Procedure

  • Proposals will be evaluated by a committee selected by the President of The Society for Archaeological Sciences, including, if necessary, suitable referees chosen from the membership of the Society.
  • The committee evaluates the eligibility and merit of the application for support of the candidate. The criteria used will be the record of the candidate, the letter of recommendation, and the scientific merit and potential career impact of the proposal. The amount granted is determined by the committee, according to funds available, but shall not exceed $1000 USD per award. SAS has allocated a maximum of $3000 to each cycle of this funding program
  • Typically, at least one award will be given to a graduate student and one to an early career researcher for each round of competition. However, if we only receive worthy applications from graduate students for a specific round, all three awards may be granted to graduate students, and vice versa. In case no worthy proposals are received in a given round, the funds allocated will be repurposed for the next round.

Terms and Conditions of the Award

  • The successful applicant is committed to submitting a brief summary of the results of analyses and/or field investigation to the SAS Bulletin no later than one year after the award is made to the recipient (not one year after the completion of the project).
  • No redress against the decision of the evaluating committee is possible.
  • The award will be made in advance of the applicable research, but the awardee must send copies of all relevant receipts to the General Secretary of The Society for Archaeological Sciences within one month of the conclusion of the supported work. If the awardee submits receipts that sum to a total less than the amount awarded by the Society, then the awardee is obligated to return the difference to the Society at the time of receipt submission.
  • Failure to comply with these terms and conditions will result in the renunciation of the award, including the return to The Society for Archaeological Sciences of the full value of the funds dispersed and a ban on the awardee from future participation in all awards and competitive opportunities sponsored by the Society.

Awardees of The Society for Archaeological Sciences Student Research Support Award

Jayde Hirniak, PhD Candidate, School of Human Evolution and Social Change Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University. Project: Understanding how the changing environment or climate played a role in human evolution is a major focus in paleoanthropological and archaeological research. However, determining whether climate or the environment played a role in specific evolutionary events throughout South Africa has been challenging due to the lack of direct links between environmental and archaeological records and unreliable age models. To solve this issue, this project aims to use cryptotephra horizons throughout South Africa to test established age models and link archaeological and environmental/climate records. Cryptotephra are far-traveled volcanic glass shards that have a distinct geochemical fingerprint and can be correlated to an independently-dated eruption. Due to these properties, these deposits can be used to develop/test age models and directly link deposits across large geographic boundaries, providing a powerful correlative and dating technique. Initial investigations in South Africa identified cryptotephra deposits from the Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT), an eruption that dates to 74 ka, at Pinnacle Point and Vleesbaai. My dissertation will expand on this work, providing a better understanding of what horizons can be used as reliable isochrons, or temporal markers, throughout the region.

Emily Doyle, PhD Candidate, Department of Geosciences, Texas Tech University. This project aims to evaluate the evolution of indigenous Iron Age communities through time by analyzing their material culture. The Eastern Adriatic region is historically an ingress into the Mediterranean and its wider cultural sphere, serving as a crossroads of cultural exchange and influence. Many seclusive communities have made their homes here since the Neolithic Age, though the Iron Age saw the arrival of numerous Greek settlements as many city-states sought to expand westward. The settlements on the island of Hvar in modern-day Croatia serve as a microcosm within which the influence of these different communities upon one another may be explored. This exploration was undertaken via multiple spectroscopic and chemical methods, with a special focus on an innovative geochemical technique that uses in-situ spot analysis over a homogenized approach. These methods include x-ray powder diffractometry (XRD), optical petrography, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS).

Michelle J Richards, Early Career Researcher, Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University (May 2024). Project: An Australasian Archaeological pXRF Research Collective. Through this project Michelle seeks to address common issues faced by archaeological and First Nations researchers wanting to use non-destructive portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF). This will be achieved by connecting multiple archaeology departments in different institutions across Australia and New Zealand to address issues including custom calibrations, radiation safety (state legislation), realistic field applications and data quality. The benefits of this project extend to First Nations communities seeking to reclaim ownership of information and gather their own data from cultural materials often held in museums or other institutions. Importantly, this collaborative project considers how archaeologists curate databases for Open Science to meet the UNESCO FAIR & CARE principles when working with First Nations communities.

Alana Pengilley, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin Project: The proposed project seeks to understand the procurement and distribution of Maya lithic resources as an indicator for economic development and regional political variability during the Late Preclassic period (400 BCE – 250 CE) in Northern Belize. This project will apply petrographic, geochemical, and computational methods to identify regional variability source chert artifacts. This multi method approach will allow for the identification of regional variability in terms of trace element concentration, fossil inclusions, and mineralogical composition. This project will address key anthropological topics concerning community-based production, local exchange, and social and economic divisions in Preclassic Maya society. The methodological and theoretical developments that this project will provide to archaeological research will open the door to a wealth of new research projects involving lithic economies across Mesoamerica.

Anastasia Iorga, PhD Candidate, Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University. Project:  Developing Boron Isotope Analysis For Use in Archaeology (July 2023). This project aims to assess the analytical capabilities of boron isotope analysis in temperate coastal wetlands, where seasonal and spatial variation of the wetlands themselves complicates archaeological investigations of past wetland exploitation. To accomplish this, the project will characterize boron isotope seasonal and spatial variation in archaeologically significant wetland plants from across two well-studied wetlands of the northeastern coastal United States from the start of the growing season and the end. These results will serve as a foundation for understanding how boron isotope values in archaeologically relevant taxa vary both spatially and seasonally in wetlands. These boron isotope data will also be layered with nitrogen, strontium, and sulfur data from these wetlands to demonstrate how boron isotopes align with isotope systems already in use by archaeologists and improve our interpretations of wetland exploitation. This work has the potential to facilitate characterizations of past wetland occupation and exploitation in unprecedented detail.

Sutonuka Bhattacharya, PhD student, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Research Affiliate, Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, India. Project: The Eternal Grind: Multiple Dimensions of Grinding Stones in the South Indian from Past and the Present (July 2023). The primary objective of this project is to reconstruct the history and significance of grinding stones for the Southern Indian Neolithic, shedding light on their function and their role within past technological systems. This endeavor involves examining various aspects of the grinding stones; and biographies, including sourcing raw materials, manufacturing strategies, patterns of use, maintenance, reuse, discard, and recycling. This research aims to enhance our understanding of how lithics were perceived within the Southern Indian Neolithic, encompassing both tangible and intangible aspects of group dynamics.

Garima Singh, PhD candidate, Department of AIHC & Archaeology, Deccan College of Post Graduate Research Institute, Pune, Maharashtra, India (December 2022). Project: Harappan pyrotechnological developments in the Ghaggar region. The project aims at identifying the occurrence of temperature variation among the furnaces reported from the Harappan site of Binjor (MSR). The evidence for industrial activities in rural settlements in the context of Harappan research in South Asia has so far only sporadically been investigated. In this context, the present project promises to establish the raw material sources and craft manufacturing industrial sites of the Ghaggar region that supplied major cities of Indus Valley Civilization. Soil samples and artefacts collected from the furnaces and kilns during the excavation have been analysed through scientific techniques to determine the nature of furnaces, i.e. whether they were used for smelting ores or melting metal or for ceramic production. Based on these, the current study will provide an understanding of the nature of craft industry at the site dating back to 3000 BCE. Moreover, the study and scientific analysis of archaeological materials has been combined with
ethnoarchaeological research on living traditional craftsmen’s workshops in and around the Harappan settlement i.e., modern villages and towns of Rajasthan and Haryana, India, while a series of experiments are planned for the coming months.

John K. Murray, PhD Candidate, Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA (December 2022). Project: How did Middle Stone Age (MSA) humans heat-treat silcrete over time in South Africa? This project aims to better understand the heat treatment of silcrete over time on the south coast of South Africa. There are multiple working hypotheses surrounding the method used to heat-treat silcrete in the MSA which include: (1) the direct method where silcrete nodules are directly placed in the fire; (2) the ember method where the nodule is placed near the fire under a pile of coals, and (3) the sand-bath method in which silcrete nodules are buried underneath the fire and heated indirectly through the sand. To test these hypotheses, I will experimentally heat-treat silcrete to create experimental reference assemblages for each method of heating. Using these assemblages, I will establish attribute criteria and develop novel methods with empirical support for identifying each method of heat treatment in the archaeological record. These attribute criteria and methods developed with the experimental assemblage will be used to analyze three MSA archaeological sites – Pinnacle Point 13B, Pinnacle Point 5-6, and Boomplaas Cave – to determine how the method of heat treatment varied from ~162 ka to ~40 ka and across diverse paleoenvironmental, paleoecological, and technological contexts.

Caitlyn Pallas,  Master's Student, University of Missouri, USA (June 2022). Project: An Archaeometric Analysis of Structural Mortars from the Sanctuary of Venus, Pompeii. Caitlyn’s MA thesis examines the Roman concrete used to construct the Temple of Venus at Pompeii. Concrete construction played a major role in the architectural development of the sanctuary, but to date there has not been extensive analysis of the mortars employed in the various parts of the complex. Caitlyn hopes to discover the composition of the concrete, the aggregates that were used to create the concrete, hydraulic properties of the concrete, the types of concrete used on site and where the different types of concrete were used, and how the concrete evolved both in terms of composition and use at the site from the Samnite period (late 4th c. BCE to late 2nd c. BCE) to the Flavian period (69 CE until the eruption in 79 CE). She will first use Raman microscopy to examine the density and porosity of the concrete used throughout the Sanctuary of Venus. Following this, she will take 30 samples from the sanctuary to analyze at U. of Missouri’s electron microscopy core (EMCore) facility and research reactor (MURR), using a variety of techniques for textural and compositional characterization.

Melissa Cadet,  Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taïwan (June 2022). Project: Copper Metallurgy during the Philippines’ Metal Period: Technologies and Exchanges. Despite the developments of metallurgical research in Mainland Southeast Asia, Island Southeast Asia has for the moment remained little studied, including the Philippines. Copper/bronze metallurgy most probably dispersed through the South China Sea via contacts/exchanges with the mainland but we still have limited knowledge of how, when and why this occurred. This project aims to record and analyze with an archaeometric approach, copper-based objects from the Filipino Metal Period to identify the different post-casting treatments; the different alloying traditions and to discuss the exchange networks with lead isotopy. The data obtained from the scientific analyses will be used to begin discussing the different copper technologies present in the Philippines as well as potential exchange networks with Taiwan but also with other regions of Southeast Asia. The results may also permit discussion about the timing, origin, and pattern of dispersion of the metallurgy in the South China Sea.

Dylan Multari,  PhD student, Macquarie University, Australia (June 2022). Project: Developing a molecular approach to the species identification of plant-based fibres in Ancient Egyptian textiles. The project will focus on exploring novel ways in which ancient textiles can studied to better understand the human past. Current textile fibre identification is performed through the use of microscopic observation, however this technique is potentially limited by textile degradation where diagnostic markers are lost over time. This project aims to apply proteomics analysis, which has been demonstrated to be effective at the species identification of anthropological and zoological materials in the archaeological record, to identify the species of origin for a collection of 26th Dynasty Egyptian burial wrappings, housed in the Nicholson Collection of the Chau Chak Wing Museum, The University of Sydney, Australia.

Ahana Ghosh,  Doctoral student, Archaeological Sciences Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India (December 2021). Project: From the cradle to the grave: Understanding food processing in the ancient Harappan habitation site of 'Dholavira' and in the burial site of 'Dhaneti. This research examines the ancient food processing and cultural use of vessels by identifying the absorbed lipids inside the ceramic metrics within the Harappan settlement of Dholavira, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Further, it compares the obtained results with the identified residues from the vessels used as grave goods from Dhaneti, an Early Harappan burial settlement also located in Kutch, Gujarat. This project peeks into the diet and ritual practices involving ceramics by examining the biomolecular components lying in the lipid residues within ceramics used by the site inhabitants during their lifetime and even seeks for residues inside the ones eventually became part of their grave goods, adding a distinct symbolic value to it. Such analyses allow archaeologists to identify organic materials held and prepared in ancient ceramic vessels and will aid in further understanding economic and subsistence practices associated with the more extensive proto-historic cultural and technological traditions of the Harappans from Dholavira and Dhaneti.

Lindsey Paskulin,  PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia, Canada (December 2021). Project: Biomolecular Insights to Foodways among the Moche of North Coastal Peru. Lindsey’s PhD thesis is centred around the application of shotgun proteomics – a method of ancient protein analysis – for the identification of food-derived proteins in Late Moche and Transitional (600-900 CE) pottery from Huaca Colorada (Peru). Local communities in Jequetepeque Valley, the region encompassing Huaca Colorada, operated within and alongside external political pressures, weaving together internal and external influences across time and space in the creation of local identity. Considering cuisine as one expression of identity, Lindsey’s research seeks to reconstruct past recipes in times of political change through the analysis of plant and animal proteins preserved in ancient pottery. While in Peru, she sampled approximately 30 pottery residues from ceramic vessels at Huaca Colorada. Proteins within the residue samples will be extracted at the ADaPT Laboratory Facility (University of British Columbia) and then analyzed using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. With the characterization of food-derived proteins in ancient pottery, Lindsey seeks to better understand how individual foodstuffs were being actively combined in expressions of cuisine.

Petra Vaiglova,  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Griffith Center for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Australia (December 2021). Project: New high-resolution technique for investigating human–wild boar interactions. In her project, Petra Vaiglova is developing a new method for integrating dental histological features (i.e., incremental features that enable us to trace the developmental geometry of dental enamel) with fine scaled stable oxygen isotope sequences measured on a Sensitive High-Resolution Ion Microprobe (SHRIMP) to reconstruct the life histories of animals from archaeological assemblages. The method will enable us to extract seasonal climatic and mobility patterns from animal teeth at an approximately weekly resolution. The method will be applicable for answering questions of past climatic fluctuations, human–animal interactions, and change of animal feeding patterns through time. Petra is applying this technique to probing the dynamic between humans and animals in Early Neolithic Southwestern Asia.

Nicolás C. Ciarlo, Early Career Researcher, National Scientific and Technical Research Council - CONICET, Argentina (August 2021). Project: New insights into the European mid-17th century gun founding practice: analyses of scrap bronze cannons recovered from the cargo of a Dutch merchant vessel sunk in Cadiz, Spain. This research is focused on the characterization of an array of mid-17th century scrap bronze cannons recovered from the Delta III site, identified as a Dutch merchant ship which sank in Cadiz, Spain. A metallurgical examination of the quality and manufacturing process of the remains will be conducted. Combining archaeological, historical, and archaeometric data, this study will provide novel information to assess the functioning of melting furnaces, the technical factors underlying failed casting, and the knowledge of the properties and behavior of cast copper alloys available at the time. This will shed light on early modern European gun foundry and recycling practices.

Ian Nathaniel Roa, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA, (August 2021). Project: The Cultural Effects of Animal Ritual Use and Sacrifice in Maya Lowlands. In the ancient Maya world, animals played a fundamental role in mythology and religion, and their symbolic value meant that animals were agents rather than items for subsistence. Animals were also important in ritual and political activities for the Maya, where they were consumed at feasts and left as offerings at altars and in burials. This project uses oxygen (δ18O) and carbon (δ13C) stable isotope analyses of enamel to reconstruct movement and diet of animals from ritually significant contexts to examine ancient animal engagement. While δ18O values represent ecological conditions present where the animals originated, δ13C reflect the total diet of the individuals. Specimens represent seven taxa, ranging from dog to crocodile from four sites in the Belize River Valley of western Belize, providing a regional perspective on human-animal engagement. The ritual contexts include burials, caches and other special deposits that span the occupational history of the Belize River Valley from more than 1500 years from the Middle Preclassic (900-300 BC) to the Terminal Classic (AD 750-900/1000). The results will address hypotheses about whether these animals were traded along distances, fed while in captivity, and shed light on ritual activity during critical transitions in Maya prehistory in the Belize Valley. 

Irini Sifogeorgaki, PhD Student, Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology, Netherlands, (August 2021). Project: Geoarchaeology at Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter, South Africa. Umhlatuzana rockshelter (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) is one of the few sites with a sequence spanning the Middle to Later Stone Age transition (∼40–20 ka). This project employs geoarchaeological techniques, with a focus on micromorphological analysis, to shed light on the events and processes that concluded in the creation of the site. With the SAS support, I will visit the Wiener Lab in Athens, and with the assistance of Dr. Karkanas, I will solve outstanding geoarchaeological questions related to post-dispositional processes (e.g., phosphate mineral formation, bioturbation activities, dating issues). The results of this research will be of great archaeological significance and will be published in open-access peer-reviewed journals.