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Standards & Policies

Statement of General Standards
for Projects Affiliated with ASOR


The Committee on Archaeological Policy (CAP) draws its charge directly from ASOR's historic objectives: "ASOR's mission is to initiate, encourage and support research into and public understanding of the cultures and history of the Near East from the earliest times" (from Mission Statement recommitting ASOR to its historic pursuits issued by its trustees in May 1999). Among the specific tasks outlined in this statement, four have special import for the efforts of the Committee on Archaeological Policy. These are:
  1. “By fostering original research, archaeological excavation and explorations,
  2. “by encouraging scholarship in the basic languages, cultural histories and traditions of the Near Eastern World,
  3. “by promoting the educational goals of Near Eastern studies disciplines and advocating high academic standards in teaching and interdisciplinary research, and
  4. “by maintaining an active program of timely dissemination of research results and conclusions.”

In order to help achieve these goals, the ASOR Committee on Archaeological Policy has drawn up this statement of general project standards to provide criteria for evaluating projects which seek affiliation with ASOR. In addition, the Committee desires to regularize procedures for obtaining and maintaining this affiliation. The two parts of this document are a set of standards and a set of procedural guidelines, including required formats for the submission of proposals.

I. Statement of General Standards for Projects Affiliated with The American Schools of Oriental Research

A. Preservation and Protection of Archaeological Resources. ASOR/CAP is strongly committed to the preservation and protection of archaeological resources and therefore requires the director(s) and staff of its affiliated projects to comply with the regulations set forth in the "Statement of ASOR Policy on Preservation and Protection of Archaeological Resources" as adopted by the ASOR Board of Trustees on November 18, 1995.

B. Conception, Field Strategy, and Budget. A project, be it large or small, should have a clear purpose, well defined objectives, and a field strategy specifically related to these objectives. The project budget should be scaled to fit reasonably expected financial resources. Costs of publication must be anticipated and provided for from the beginning.

C. Requirements of Host Countries. All projects must conform to the general and specific requirements, including licensing of all the Departments of Antiquities of host countries and to the laws of those countries.

D. Staff. The staff of the project, and most especially the principal investigator, must exemplify high levels of scholarship and must have a range of skills and a background of field training and experience adequate for the project. ("Adequacy" of staff in size and competence depends upon the nature and scale of the project - in some cases a staff of one or two may be adequate).

E. Method and Recording. Although methods of investigation vary from project to project, such methods must reflect a high level of concern for the complete, careful, and systematic recovery of evidence, and provide for a complete and clear recording of that evidence in accord with project purposes and objectives.

F. Conservation, Analysis, and Publication of Material. Where projects result in recovery of artifacts, samples, and other archaeological materials, such materials must receive careful and orderly storage, conservation by qualified personnel, and competent technical preparation for publication. Preliminary reports must be promptly published, and firm commitment must be made to a reasonable schedule for production of final reports. Although CAP encourages researchers to make their data available via digital media, for the present, electronic presentations are not considered a substitute for refereed print publications.

G. Eligibility. The Principal Investigator (PI) of a field project applying for ASOR affiliation is required to be (1) an American or Canadian citizen with an official affiliation with a North American university/institute of higher education, or (2) a resident of the United States or Canada who has an official affiliation with a North American university/institute of higher education, or (3) in the case of Cyprus, have an official association with CAARI. The ASOR Baghdad and Damascus Committees will advise regarding exceptional cases in Syria and Iraq. For field projects, the PI is required to appear on the excavation or survey license issued by the host country. All PIs and co-directors are required to be ASOR members in good standing. ASOR Institutional Membership of one of the sponsoring or consortia schools is highly recommended, but not required.

II. Procedures and Guidelines


ASOR is concerned that any excavation or field project which seeks affiliation with it reflects the highest standards of archaeological organization, method, and scholarship. However, ASOR does not see its task as one of active supervision of affiliated projects (except in those instances and areas where by mutual consent a project may contract for the facilities and services of the local Institutes); rather, ASOR functions analogously to an accrediting association, granting or withholding the status of affiliation by action of the Trustees of ASOR (or its Executive Committee) upon recommendation of its Committee on Archaeological Policy. It should be noted, however, that those projects which have been granted the status of affiliation will be given priority with respect to equipment, laboratory facilities, and liaison support of the local Institutes as well as representation to the various Departments of Antiquities and to foundations or funding agencies. Also, the extent to which the facilities and services of the local centers and institutes can be placed at the disposal of a newly affiliated project will depend upon prior commitments to affiliated projects already underway.

The following guidelines are designed to advise initiators of projects in the development of proposals which will meet the general project standards of ASOR. The Committee will meet once a year in conjunction with the Annual Fall ASOR meeting. Projects requesting affiliation must submit proposals to the Chair of the Committee by November 1st of the year preceding their field work. Requests for renewed affiliation should be made periodically as described below (see Section II, Paragraph C), and meet the same deadline. Projects which cannot meet this deadline because of emergency or unusual circumstances should submit a request for delayed action by the Committee to the chairman of the Committee by November 1st. All submissions for ASOR/CAP affiliation should be made electronically, using the uniform application form posted on the CAP web page.

Guidelines for Project Proposals

A.  Application Procedure for Field and Publication Projects.  All field or publication projects, whether new or previously affiliated (lapsed), shall complete and submit the uniform “Application for ASOR Project Affiliation" form.  All archaeological projects involving excavation, soundings or surveys require thorough advance thought and planning. Therefore, whether the project is large or small, the proposal needs to be worked out in considerable detail. The Directors of the Centers and Institutes and the Chair of the Committee on Archaeological Policy stand ready to encourage and assist the applicant by supplying needed information or by consulting on preliminary drafts.  New proposals should be particularly concerned with formulating a clear problem-oriented research design, a field strategy appropriate to the research design, and a realistic budget. Staff structure and responsibilities should be clear and unambiguous.

Principal investigators and key core staff should have adequate prior field experience and training. Staff specialists in interdisciplinary projects should be recognized experts in their fields of competency. A major consideration in the approval of new projects and renewed field work will be the commitment (completion or demonstrated progress) by principal staff members and staff specialists to the publication of the results of other projects or earlier field phase work for which they have responsibility.

Funding sources should list committed institutional funds and grant applications which have been or will be submitted. In the projection of expenses, the Directors of ASOR Centers and Institutes should be consulted for current fee schedules on rentals of equipment and laboratory facilities, and for the provision of local adequate liability and accident insurance for all of those involved in the project. The Committee on Archaeological Policy is particularly concerned that adequate provision for the costs of publication--storage of materials, drawing, drafting, photography, layout, and printing--be included in all budgets, and that adequate resources be allocated for the site protection and preservation in accordance with local antiquities laws.

Projects with field schools and volunteer programs should include a list of institutions supporting these programs and responsible staff, along with a description of the nature of the educational programs. These programs can play an important educational role in "communicating to the general public the results and significance of research within ASOR's field of interest" (Goal VII of the 1980 Task Force) along with developing future archaeologists. They should be more than fund-raising instruments, and project proposals should reflect standards of accountability for these programs.

All applications must include a detailed plan for the publication of preliminary and final reports, including the format and schedule of preparation of such reports. It is expected that approved projects will first offer their preliminary reports to an ASOR publication or a similarly respected publication. When Affiliation for field or publication work is granted, it is valid for three years unless otherwise specified by the CAP committee.


B. Periodic Renewal of Affiliation. Field or publication projects approved by the CAP committee are usually valid for a three year affiliation, but are subject to annual review if necessary.  New or current projects submitting applications that raise concerns with the committee may be provisionally approved and placed on probation for one year after which the committee will review the status and progress of the project in resolving the issue(s) of concern.  Affiliation will be withdrawn from projects that fail to report in accordance with the above guidelines. Projects whose affiliation has lapsed may re-affiliate by carefully revising (updating) and submitting the uniform application form. Renewal will depend upon the following:

1. The submission to the Committee on Archaeological Policy of a written request for renewal of affiliation including the information requested in the attached format and in compliance with the schedule outlined above.

2. Evidence that the project is maintaining high standards of organization, method, and scholarship. Normally such estimation will involve evaluation by members of the Committee on Archaeological Policy of the project in the field, or oral presentations made at the Annual Meeting, and of written reports and publications.

3. Fulfillment on schedule of all requirements of the appropriate Department of Antiquities, and of all general requirements of the ASOR Trustees, as well as of any special conditions or provisos made by the ASOR Trustees in their original approval of the project or in their periodic review.

4. Publication of appropriate preliminary reports on each season's work or each phase of the project; or demonstrated specific progress on the processing of materials for preliminary or final reports.

5. The continuation of the director or principal investigator who first submitted the proposal. If this person leaves the directorship, the Committee on Archaeological Policy may ask for a new proposal from the new director.

6. Satisfactory fulfillment during the year of all agreements between the project and the local Institute concerning finances, use of equipment, and use of the facilities of the local Institute. 



For questions, contact:
Committee on Archaeological Research and Policy (CAP)
Øystein S. LaBianca (Chair)
Thomas E. Levy (Chair elect)