Task 1 - Develop The Discovery Programme into a National Research Centre

To develop the Discovery Programme into a national research centre dedicated to advanced multidisciplinary studies in Irish archaeology and related disciplines in the humanities, science and technology.

How does Task 1 relate to Discovering Ireland’s Ancient Peoples and Landscapes?

Irish archaeological research is essential to the construction of narratives about Ireland’s people and their landscapes. Archaeology cannot stand alone anymore in undertaking this task. The discipline needs to integrate its particular evidence with other disciplines. These include subjects in the humanities (e.g. anthropology, art and architectural history, economic, political, religious and social history, linguistics and topographical studies) and in science and technology (chemical analysis, dendrochronology, C14 dating, genetics, remote sensing, paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate studies). The employment of all these techniques and the ensuing dialogue of scholars enrich archaeological analysis. They also create a vibrant research community that is capable of examining specific themes (e.g. the movement of people, food production and diet, climate change), chronological horizons, local and regional studies, and landscape or monument specific surveys.

How will we transform the Discovery Programme into a vibrant national research centre?

Vibrant research depends on the existence of a scholarly community engaging in lively debate. The Discovery Programme is well placed both institutionally and geographically to draw scholars together from the whole island and elsewhere to consider specific issues. We can play a role in supporting the analytical training of graduates and introduce them to the concept of multidisciplinary studies. In an era when it is often difficult to find time to focus exclusively on an intellectual discourse, the Discovery Programme can offer that space and time by organising collaborative conferences, seminars and workshops, training modules and theme-centred focus groups.

The strength of the Discovery Programme since its establishment has stemmed from its capacity to tackle large-scale research projects, including conducting research excavations and developing applied and multidisciplinary research. We have built an expertise in new and innovative techniques and methods within archaeological research. In the field of remote sensing and applied technology the Discovery Programme is regarded as a leader both nationally and internationally. This has been proven by our success in participating in transEuropean networks and in gaining considerable support funding from EU programmes.

In addition, the ability to integrate a range of scientific approaches within research programmes, including paleoenvironmental and isotopic research, enables the Discovery Programme to apply truly interdisciplinary methodologies to archaeological questions.

This mission will continue and will inform our scholarly contributions to Irish archaeology. A suite of existing projects will be completed and other projects will evolve gradually out of the collaborative debates that take place with Discovery Programme support. Study of Ireland’s ancient peoples and landscapes will be informed by the Heritage Council’s INSTAR research themes:

» Cultural identity, territory and boundaries

» Resources, technology and craft

» Exchange and trade

» Religion and ritual

» Environment and climate change

» Landscapes and settlement

» Archaeology and contemporary society


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