The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures of the University of Chicago is an interdisciplinary research center whose goal is to integrate archaeological, textual, and art historical data to understand the development and functioning of the ancient civilizations of West Asia and North Africa from the earliest Holocene through the Medieval period. With more than 350,000 objects, excavated primarily by ISAC archaeologists, the ISAC Museum collections are some of the most important resources for research in the world. ISAC wishes to provide researchers with financial support to carry out discrete research projects that incorporate the study of artifacts and related archival documents within our museum collections. 

Owing to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently working to complete research visits funded by the Collections Research Grant 2019–2020 cycle. Please check back for updates regarding future cycles and calls for applications. 

Collections Research Grant 2019–2020

This academic year, through the generosity of Jim Sopranos, ISAC will once again be awarding Collections Research Grants. We welcome applications from a wide spectrum of researchers, from those at the graduate student level (i.e. Masters Degree or PhD candidates) to well-established professional researchers in their field of study. Applications are welcome from researchers from all nationalities. Applicants may also include researchers affiliated with the University of Chicago, including ISAC.   

We allow for the broadest possible selection of potential projects that will heighten the level of intellectual discourse and collaboration within ISAC. Invitations may be made to share research with faculty, staff, and students through informal presentations during the research visit. We encourage use of our Online Collections Search and Online Publications in the preparation of applications. Inquiries can be sent to Dr. Kiersten Neumann at (please keep inquiries to a minimum and utilize the listed sources to gather information about the collections prior to emailing).

A committee comprised of ISAC faculty members and museum staff will review proposals and award a number of grants which altogether will total $10,000. Traditionally, this amount is divided between three to five applicants in order to provide financial support for multiple research projects (Past Recipients). Decisions concerning the outcome of awards will be made and notifications sent to successful applicants in July, with the award made active from January 2020 (please note that in contrast to previous grant cycles, research visits will be scheduled beginning in January 2020). The grant must be fully utilized and completed prior to May 31st, 2020. The expected duration of the research visit is flexible within this period, but must be stipulated in the application. Other research funds may be used in combination with this grant to increase the duration of a research visit, but must be stipulated (if known) at the time of application. The selection process will take into consideration the quality of research questions and appropriate methodologies; the scope and types of material proposed for study; the sites, periods, or sub-collections of material; and potential requirements for special equipment or scientific analysis of material. 

Funding is primarily aimed to help support the costs of travel, accommodation, subsistence, and to cover relevant research costs for the researcher during the appointed period. The grantee will not be appointed an office, desk space, or computer, although access will be provided to our Research Archives (ISAC's library) and collections study areas.

Requirements: Candidates must hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a field of study. Applications are open to students enrolled in a relevant Master’s Degree or Ph.D Program (i.e. graduate student level), as well as to established professional researchers with a University affiliation, researchers within museums, and independent researchers.

Grantees must submit an interim report at the end of their research visit and a final report by May 31st, 2020. Publications resulting from this research grant must acknowledge the grant from ISAC appropriately, and grantees must provide a digital and/or hard-copy of any publications resulting from their research to ISAC. Appropriate permissions must be sought for studying unpublished material and images of documents or objects taken during the course of research through consultation with the Museum. Copies of images of Museum documents and/or objects taken by the grantee during the course of their research will be provided to the Museum for potential inclusion on ISAC's integrated database.

Application Process:  

Please send your applications by email to Dr. Kiersten Neumann: with the subject line: “Collections Research Grant” 

The application must include in one single PDF document in the following order (word documents and/or multiple documents will not be accepted):

  • Cover letter indicating your research interests and suitability for the grant.
  • Two-page proposal with title and outline of the proposed research topic, collections of interest in the OI, duration of project and suggested dates, and relevant publication plans. 
  • Curriculum vitae (2 pages maximum).
  • Budget (1 page maximum), including other grants that may be contributing to this research.
  • Contact details for two referees.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, May 15th, 2019