Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Please help support our research

After some conversations with visitors to the site over this holiday weekend, I realized that I needed to explain our project's funding and the urgent need for support.  This is a public archaeology project. The research is dependent upon tax-deducible gifts from private individuals who discover our work and decide that what we are doing is important and should continue.

Many people seem to be under the impression that a patron or foundation is sponsoring our work at the Davenport Pottery Site in Parowan, Utah.  To be blunt, people think we have a sugar daddy.  This is not true and it is important that people understand how this project came into being- archaeology research doesn't "just happen."

I have cobbled together enough support to run the field school.  Several partners or patrons are helping, mostly through in-kind donations of logistical support.  I thought I would give readers an idea of what it takes to make a field school happen:

The Iron Mission State Park Museum is making most of our photocopies and letting us bring the students there for lectures.  In addition Todd Prince, the park director, and Ryan Paul, the curator, have both given guest lectures or led field trips, teaching the students about Iron County prehistory and history.  Todd has extensive experience in Utah prehistory and stands ready to help us with the consultation process if we discover any prehistoric remains.

The City of Parowan and The Dixie National Forest worked together to get us a waiver so we could camp in the Five Mile Picnic Area at no cost.  The camp or hotel fees are a big part of field work expenses, so this support was critical.  Parowan City staff have also been very helpful because they found us a secure storage location, give us access to potable water, help with equipment for specific field needs, and are keeping up the campground.

The archaeology faculty and staff at Southern Utah University's Archaeological Repository lent us a bunch of equipment for our field camp, including some extra tents, cooking gear, and potable water tanks.  I am in debt to both Barbara Frank and Emily Dean for their help.

Utah State Parks will lend us some equipment and help with back filling and earth moving.

The Matheson family have given us permission to work on their land and promised to donate the artifact collection to the state.

Michigan Technological University awarded me a small grant that will cover about 1/2 of the vehicle costs from the motor pool.  The Department of Social Sciences is also supporting some of the students during their time here, through small scholarships or hourly pay, and helped cover some of Chuck Young's travel costs to come out and bring the geophysics equipment. Chuck paid the balance out of his pocket.  The department also let me teach the field school class, despite the fact that enrollment was well below the cut-off point that makes a class viable.

The Register of Professional Archaeologists also provided a scholarship award to the project. This helped students to enroll who might not have otherwise been able to afford to attend.

The Utah Humanities Council awarded State Parks a small grant to help us tie the exhibit and the excavation together in some public programs.

That is how we made the field school happen.

The analysis and write up of this excavation and the ongoing research are separate issues.  We will return to our lab at MTU with tens of thousands of artifacts to analyze and research to complete.  Without any donations or support, I will spend the next ten years studying the collection and writing a manuscript, working on occasional Sundays and during future months of August.  I will not return to the field in Utah again until that is finished.  It would be unethical for me to collect more excavation data without reporting on what we'd already gathered.

With your gifts of support, however, we could finish the analysis in a year, help the Iron Mission Museum design their replica exhibit of the Davenport Pottery for the Ironworks Homestead, and set up another study in Parowan or another pottery site.  The key to making this happen is gifts in support of student scholarships and analysis.  As you read in the list above, lots of organizations can give in-kind and logistical support. None of the organizations with which I've partnered can support students working in the lab.  We are looking for partners to join us in our research effort by supporting students and other direct costs.  The partners could be communities, businesses, or private patrons who wish to ensure that the archaeological study of Utah's historic-era pottery heritage continues before more of the sites are destroyed.

The way that the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program at Michigan Tech operates, we find sponsors that support our students while the faculty donate our time to various research projects.  We collaborate in this way.  I don't get paid out of donations from the public-- the university already pays me to teach students and do research, so I don't need money for my salary.  We use your donations to support graduate and undergraduate students and direct research costs (gas for the truck and van, Neutron Activation Analysis and other archaeometry, etc.)

Here are some things for which I need immediate support:

If I can find support for Jessica Montcalm, she can work on this project full time as her MS thesis, instead of waiting on tables or holding another part time job while finishing her studies- M.S. student tuition waiver, 2009-10-  $12,000

To get the lab work going, we need funds to support undergraduates working in the lab.  They help Jessica and me with the cleaning, cataloging, refitting studies (pottery jigsaw puzzles), and other analyses-  Undergraduate student lab staff- $5,000

Vehicles cost us money when we take them from the Motor Pool.  Right now, I am on the hook for gas and rental costs- $1,500 

The science costs money.  Neutron Activation Analysis, analysis of animal bones, charcoal identification, LA-ICP-MS all cost about $20, $50, or $100 per sample- Scientific testing:- $2,000

Every little gift helps!  Your gift of $20 lets me buy one scientific test.  For example, I might be able to compare the chemistry of Thomas Davenport's raw clay and his finished products, or study the charcoal to determine what type of fuel burned to heat the kiln.  

Gifts at any level are tax deductible.

Donations can be made to a special account at the Michigan Tech Fund by clicking here. Individuals who wish to give money to organizations in Utah can make donations by sending checks to the Iron Mission Museum Foundation (Davenport Pottery Project), 585 North Main, Cedar City, Utah 84720-1079.

I offer my deepest thanks our past supporters, including the students who invested their time and finances in the research.

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