For the last six months, the MicroPasts web platform has been ‘crowd-sourcing’ the transcription of thousands of Bronze Age finds recorded on index cards, the tagging of hundreds of historical photographs, and creating scores of 3D models of archaeological artefacts including Bronze Age weapons and gold jewellery, ancient Egyptian figurines and million-year old stone axes from Olduvai Gorge.
In a new venture, they are now launching a crowd-funding section for the platform to support archaeological and historical research involving collaborations between community organisations and academic institutions.
The project team are asking both for new crowd-funding proposals and for donations by members of the public to existing crowd-funding campaigns that they feel passionate about.
Project co-lead Daniel Pett, British Museum, who has been heavily involved in implementing this software, commented: “This section of our site is a little bit like KickStarter, but especially for people who want to sponsor high quality research about human history, or for people interested who want to collaborate with an academic institution and start a new project in their local area.”
Supporting the silent majority
Rather than funding new digs, the MicroPasts crowd-funding site is meant to support the ‘silent majority’ of archaeological and historical research. Important tasks such as artefact study, digitisation of documents or old fieldwork records, scientific sampling, library-based searches and laboratory work are often insufficiently resourced but are key to ensuring high quality publication of the primary evidence. Volunteer historical and archaeological societies have a very big part to play in such research, and are especially effective when they team up with similarly interested universities or museums.
Project co-lead Professor Andrew Bevan, UCL Institute of Archaeology, added: “Unlike other crowd-funding platforms, ours is dedicated to helping such community-based archaeology and history projects who otherwise sometimes find it difficult to raise the necessary financial support.”
The MicroPasts crowd-funding site has begun life with three starter projects.