The Oriental Institute 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 the Near East from the earliest Holocene through the Medieval period.  

With more than 300,000 registered objects and many more to be catalogued, the Museum collection at the Oriental Institute is one of the most important resources for research in the world. 

The Oriental Institute 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. 

Collections Research Grant Applications for 2017–2018 

This year, through the generosity of Jim Sopranos, one or more Museum Collections Research Grants will be available to researchers.  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 the Oriental Institute.   

We allow for the broadest possible selection of potential projects that will heighten the level of intellectual discourse and collaboration within the Oriental Institute.  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 (, and welcome enquiries about our collections ( in the preparation of applications.

A committee comprised of Oriental Institute faculty members and museum staff will review proposals and may award either a single grant of up to $10,000, or may opt to provide smaller awards to more than one individual per year.  Decisions concerning the outcome of awards will be made and notifications sent to successful applicants in early June, with the award made active from July 1st each year. The grant must be fully utilized and completed prior to June 30th of the year following the researcher’s notification of a successful application.  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 being studied, the sites, periods, or sub-collections of material, as well as detailing potential requirements for special equipment or scientific analysis of material. 

Funding is primarily aimed to help support the costs of travel, accommodation, subsistence, to supplement student salaries, 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 (Oriental Institute 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 at the conclusion of their research. Publications resulting from this research grant must acknowledge the grant from the Oriental Institute appropriately, and grantees must provide a digital and/or hard-copy of any publications resulting from their research to the Oriental Institute. 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 or objects taken by the grantee during the course of their research will be provided to the Museum for potential inclusion on its Integrated Database.

To apply:   

Please send your applications and enquiries by email only to: including the subject line:  “Collections Research Grant” 

The application must include in one single document (Word or pdf.):

  • A cover letter indicating your research interests and suitability for the grant.
  • A two page proposal outlining the proposed research topic, collections of interest in the Oriental Institute, duration of project and suggested dates, and relevant publication plans. 
  • A curriculum vitae (2 pages maximum).
  • A budget (1 page maximum), including other grants that may be contributing to this research.
  • Contact details for two referees.

Application Deadline:  5pm (US Central Daylight Time), Friday, April 14th, 2017

Successful Applicants in 2015

Moujan Matin, University of Oxford – The Origins of Tin Glazed Pottery: A Technological Examination of 8th-10th Century Ceramics from Islamic Lands

This project will involve a study of archaeological materials in the Oriental Institute Museum, namely ceramic sherd material from the sites of Rayy and Istakhr (Iran), and Aqaba (Jordan), with a view to carrying out future scientific analysis to explain technological developments and transfer of materials through their chemical characteristics.

Yael Rotem, Tel Aviv University – Nahal Tabor Cemetery in the Central Jordan Valley during the Early Bronze Age I-II: Burial Customs and Death Rituals at the Transition to Urban life

This project involves the study of materials from the Oriental Institute excavations of the Nahal Tabor Cemetery in the Jordan Valley. The project includes the preparation of this material for publication. This study of objects and archival materials will build upon the researcher’s analysis of ceramics and stratigraphy from the Oriental Institute’s excavations at Tel Yaqush, Israel.   

Tasha Vorderstrasse, University of Chicago – Material Culture from Medieval Anatolia in the Oriental Institute Museum

This project examines medieval material culture from the archaeological site of Alishar Hüyük, Turkey, which was excavated by the Oriental Institute in the 1920s and 1930s. The project involves the preparation of this material for publication. This will place the objects within a broader archaeological and historical context of medieval Anatolia, particularly for the 12th-13th centuries.

Successful applicants in 2014

Jamie Novotny, University of Pennsylvania – Sources for Ashurbanipal in the Oriental Institute

This study contributes to the final publication of prism fragments of Assurbanipal in the Oriental Institute collections, as part of the Royal Inscriptions of the Assyrian Period project at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Cline, George Washington University – An archaeological history of Megiddo

This project involves the study of Oriental Institute archives, and the selection of photographic archives and object images for a book in preparation about the history of excavations at Megiddo, including the Oriental Institute’s Expedition in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Katharina Streit, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Black burnished ware: a shared trait of the northern and southern Levant in the 6th Millennium BCE

This project seeks to compare prehistoric ceramic sherds from Tell Kurdu and Judaidah (Amuq Plains) at the Oriental Institute with similar material from excavations in Israel (Ein al-Jerba). Visual analysis will be compared with p-XRF analysis to test the variability of similar ceramic types between the northern and southern Levant.

Elon Heymans, Tel Aviv University – Two Iron Age silver hoards from Megiddo

This project involves the detailed study of an Iron Age silver hoard from Megiddo in the Oriental Institute’s collections. To date there has been no full typological study of the elements and multiple fragments of ingots and jewelry that make up the hoard.