Many of you know that Representatives Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) last week published a piece in USA Today advocating tighter controls of National Science Foundation funding. Their piece seized on several archaeological research projects as symptomatic examples of ill-conceived scientific research priorities. Representatives Cantor and Smith did not single out historical archaeology, but their aim is squarely on social sciences, and many historical archaeologists have been fortunate to receive NSF support. NSF funding has significantly impacted the discipline, transformed many scholars’ careers, and supported many archaeological projects benefitting communities throughout the country.
Today the SHA has written Cantor and Smith responding to their piece in USA Today. Cantor and Smith’s piece is perhaps a rhetorical assault on social sciences, but some legislators are intent on radically changing the NSF in particular, if not all federal funding of the sciences. The potential for such changes at the highest levels of federal funding could have dramatic effects on historical archaeology.