Ethical Issues in Archaeology

Bibliographic Information

Course Title

Ethical Issues in Archaeology


John F. Cherry

Institution Where Taught

Brown University

Semester or Date Taught

Fall 2015

Web Address (URL)

Additional Information

Course Number

ARCH 2010G

Course Level

Course Description

This seminar is intended to introduce graduate students to some of the central ethical, legal, and professional issues that they will very probably face in the course of their own doctoral research and subsequent careers in archaeology (or in closely cognate fields, or in museums). Some of these issues are governed by legislation, international conventions, or professional codes of practice; as archaeologists-in-the-making, you need to have a good familiarity with these, both in your home country and in other parts of the world in which you may work. Many other situations, however, fall less clearly within the purview of such regulations, and pose ethical dilemmas, often with no very clear-cut solution. Many archaeological and museum associations have developed sets of ethical guidelines (generally only within the past 30 years, or so) to provide guidance to their members. These are often framed in terms of principles of stewardship or of responsibilities — to the archaeological record itself, to the public, and to colleagues — recognizing that archaeologists are not the only stakeholders with interests in the past, a concept best enshrined by the simple question "Who owns the past?" [Selection from course description in syllabus, which is available for download as a Word Doc at the URL provided. Please see the syllabus for complete course description.]

Syllabus Available



Syllabus and bibliography are available to download on Brown University's Canvas page for the course.


RPA Codes & Standards

CIfA Codes

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Topics & Issues