Archaeology and Anthropological Ethics
Meighan, Clement W.
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ANY TOPIC THAT MELDS politics, science and the human experience, like archaeology, is bound to generate conflict. Sadly, science often finds itself regulated by political agendas which lack vision beyond a politician's term in office; agendas which are lacking in educated scientific opinion, often resulting in policies enacted to the detriment of science or the eradication of culture.
Archaeology has long suffered under the ignorance of those who continue to view archaeologists as nothing more than treasure hunters. As long as there have been tombs, individuals have sought to profit from the items buried in them. But the science of archaeology has a moral directive...not simply to excavate items long forgotten, but to protect, preserve and study these artifacts for the benefit of science and future generations. Pothunters, looters and those who scour the earth in search of hidden treasure are not archaeologists.
This compelling essay was written by a dedicated scientist who believed in archaeology's moral directive. Anthropologists and archaeologists will find amongst these pages powerful arguments to support archaeological conservation versus repatriation.
"The American Indian has no written history. Repatriation is damaging the ONLY record the American Indian has. If the archaeology is not done [and the artifacts preserved], the ancient people remain without a history, and without a record of their existence."
RPA Codes & Standards
- Archaeologist's Responsibility to Colleagues, Employees, and Students
- Archaeologist's Responsibility to Employers and Clients
- Archaeologist's Responsibility to the Public
Keywords & Terms
- Adequate and Responsible Reporting, Publication, and Dissemination
- Avoid, Discourage, and Report Unethical and Illegal Activity
- Burials and Human Remains
- Conflicts of Interest
- Consultation/Partnership with Affected Groups
- Consultation/Partnership with Indigenous Peoples
- Culturally Significant and/or Sacred Sites, Objects, and Places
- Dishonesty, Exaggeration, Fraud, Deceit, and/or Misrepresentation
- General Archaeological Ethics
- Impact on Communities - Local, Descendant, etc.
- Indigenous, Tribal, Aboriginal Rights
- Looting, Collecting, and Illicit Trade of Cultural Property
- Management of Cultural Resources, Heritage, History
- Preservation of Archaeological Resources
- Promotion of Archaeological Research/Archaeology as Scientific Discipline
- Protection and Non-Disclosure of Archaeological Sites
- Respect for and Responsibility to Affected Groups
Topics & Issues
- Archaeological Advocacy and Activism
- Archaeological Ethics - Other
- Archaeological Societies and Codes of Ethics
- Colonialism and Imperialism
- Conservation and Ethics
- Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
- Decolonizing Archaeology
- Descendant, Resident, and Stakeholder Communities
- Destruction of Cultural Heritage
- Equity, Representation, and Diversity
- Ethical Case Studies
- Ethical Responsibilities of Archaeologists
- Ethics of Collecting
- Heritage Erasure
- Heritage Management
- Human Remains and Ethical Practice
- Indigenous Archaeology: Perspectives and Issues
- NAGPRA, Repatriation, and Indigenous Rights