Archaeologists on conservation: How codes of archaeological ethics and professional standards treat conservation

Susan I. Rotroff


Over the last decade. as a result of growing complexity within the profession and practice of archaeology, and increased awareness of the impact of archaeological research on the fragile resources that themselves form the basis of that research, several professional societies have developed and refined codes of ethics or professional standards governing a wide range of archaeological activities. While all of these codes seek to protect the archaeological record, they differ widely in the emphasis they give to conservation and stewardship, as well as in their underlying philosophies. Some, like the Code of Ethics for ROPA Members, follow a “Ten Commandments” model, seeking to codify minimal standards. Others, like the Society for American Archaeology’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics, espouse a more liberal approach, framing principles and goals rather than rules and regulations. With emphasis on these different approaches and on the treatment of issues of conservation, this paper will investigate the codes published by the Archaeological Institute of America (AlA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), and the Registry of Professional Archaeologists (ROPA), as well as the excavation and survey guidelines of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The effectiveness of the codes as a means of regulation and the conditions that work against such regulation will also be addressed.

1999 | St. Louis | Volume 6