Research Grants

KyOPA Small Research Grant – Updated Call For Proposals

KyOPA welcomes proposals from full and associate members on an annual basis for the KyOPA Small Research Grant. Our research grant program is intended for students and other members conducting independent research that contributes to a thesis, dissertation, or other publishable manuscripts. Grants will be awarded to support specialized analytical procedures that offer great potential to expand our knowledge of Kentucky archaeology. Examples of previously funded analyses include radiocarbon and luminescence dates, thin sectioning, micromorphology samples, scanning electron microscopy, and trace element analysis. Proposals are reviewed by the Small Research Grant Committee, composed of current members of the KyOPA Board of Directors. The amount of funding and the number of grants awarded are based on funds available, the merit of each application, and the number of applications. KyOPA strives to award at least one Small Research Grant per year totaling approximately $500. However, when funds are available, KyOPA will attempt to grant additional awards of an equal or lesser amount. This grant is made possible by funds raised from KyOPA membership dues and KyOPA fund raising events. In addition, 501c3 tax-deductible donations can be made at any time to fund additional grant awards – just click the “Donate” button (Paypal) on the lower right side of the KyOPA webpage!

Proposals are accepted at any time during the year. However, funding decisions are made once a year.  All proposals submitted by January 1st of each year will be evaluated by KyOPA Small Research Grant Committee and an announcement will be made at that year’s Kentucky Heritage Council annual archaeology conference.

Proposals should be concise – no more than 2 pages of text in length not including figures, tables and references cited – and describe:

(1) A research question (ideally structured as a hypothesis/ test expectations).

(2) How the proposed work will address the research question.

(30 How the proposed work contributes to both local archaeology/history and broader anthropological/theoretical issues.

(4) A cost estimate of the analysis.

(5) The research question and methods should be supported by appropriate references cited and figures (when relevant).

Researchers who are awarded a KyOPA Small Research Grant are required to present the results of their KyOPA-funded analysis at the Kentucky Heritage Council (KHC) archaeological conference via a research poster or paper within two years of receiving the grant.  A brief oral report of the analytical results will also be announced by the awardee at the KHC conference during the KyOPA business meeting. The research should also contribute to a thesis, dissertation, or a peer-reviewed publication such as an academic journal or edited volume.

Submit proposals as a PDF document via email to the KyOPA president (currently: Duane Simpson; [email protected]) by the due date for review by the KyOPA Board of Directors. It is highly recommended that you contact the KyOPA president to discuss the suitability of the proposed research prior to submitting a proposal to the KyOPA grant program.

KyOPA Research Grant Awarded

Edward Henry of Washington University if St. Louis has been awarded a $595 research grant from KyOPA. Ed studies the construction of Adena-Hopewell earthen enclosures that were built during the Middle Woodland period (ca. 200 B.C. to A.D. 500) in Central Kentucky. His research is the first to examine the differences in how disparate social groups built and used these ritual gathering places. The radiocarbon dating he has undertaken at numerous enclosure sites provides the foundation for understanding when and how quickly people across the Central Kentucky landscape began participating in the construction and use of these sites. Henry will use the KyOPA Research Grant Fund to pay for one radiocarbon date from feasting debris he identified inside the Winchester Farm enclosure. The date will be run on the bone collagen of White Tail Deer remnants. The Winchester Farm enclosure is one of several enclosures that comprise the Mount Horeb earthworks in northern Fayette County. The site is the only one of its form (i.e., square with rounded corners) in Kentucky, and only one of two ever identified outside of Ohio (the other is at the Garden Creek site in western North Carolina). Knowing when the construction and use of these particular enclosures spread outside of Central Ohio, where many such enclosures have been identified, will help explain how quickly interaction between these two regions led to the spread of ritual ideas and practices.

2014 KyOPA Archaeology Research Grant Awarded to Edward R. Henry (Washington University in St. Louis)

Applicant: Edward R. Henry


My dissertation research focuses on the timing and tempo of earthwork construction that occurred between the late–Early and early–Middle Woodland Periods (approx. 500 BCE to CE 250) in the Central Kentucky Bluegrass Region. Archaeologists have traditionally characterized this time period as belonging to the Adena/Hopewell phenomena, emphasizing considerable variation in material culture and ritual practice. Because so much attention has been focused on constructing and evaluating Adena/Hopewell cultural typologies, less attention has been paid to building chronologies, and defining historical developments, of social complexity associated with Adena/Hopewell. The construction and use of earthworks provides one context that I use as a proxy for local participation in Adena/Hopewell by social groups in Central Kentucky. By learning when and in what sequence earthworks were built, identifying what activities were undertaken within them, and recognizing how many were being used concurrently, I hope to identify historical elements of ritual practice associated with this unique expression of social complexity in Eastern North America. Statistical modeling of multiple chronometric dates from several earthwork sites is imperative to this task. In the summer of 2013 I conducted excavations at a small geometric ditch-and-embankment earthwork in northern Fayette County, Kentucky with the assistance of the University of Kentucky archaeological field school. Excavations revealed complex sequences of refilling events in the ditch, a series of post-holes outlining the interior platform, and a large amorphous sheet midden situated in the earthwork’s center. The KyOPA research grant is crucial to my creation of a radiocarbon chronology for this specific earthwork and the broader goals of my dissertation. Identifying the historical context of this earthwork and the activities undertaken there will provide a preliminary case study that I can use to present to grant agencies as I seek the funding to move forward with my dissertation research.

Value of Grant to Research:

Being a member of KyOPA over the years has offered me numerous opportunities to engage with, and learn from, Kentucky’s professional and avocational community of archaeologists. As a member of KyOPA I have been able to present my research within a friendly and supportive environment. I look forward to participating in KyOPA for years to come.


LiDAR and geophysical data from the geometric earthwork.


Embankment and ditch profile.


Profile of ditch showing burning events near the base. Note: ditch was excavated to bedrock in antiquity.


Planview image of sheet midden feature inside earthwork