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The Archaeological Studies Program: Violating Archaeological Ethics
By Elson T. Elizaga
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Code of Ethics. What is the archaeological code of ethics that Burton was so concerned about? Is it “universal” or subject to local opinion? Burton used to work with British-Kenyan paleoanthropologist Louis S. B. Leakey, and she insists that there is a universal Code of Ethics for Archaeologists, "because archaeology is a science." She said the code requires that archaeologists must coordinate: Archaeologists planning to examine an area must inform other archaeologists already working in that area. Burton has been working in Huluga and vicinities since 1975.

I haven't seen one "universal" code, if by "universal" we mean a constitution-like set of rules for all archaeologists. But I've seen several, similar codes published in websites. They support Burton’s call for outside archaeologists to coordinate with resident archaeologists: The Code of Ethics of The Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) states that an archaeologist must “Communicate and cooperate with colleagues having common professional interests; Give due respect to colleagues' interests in, and rights to, information about sites, areas, collections, or data where there is a mutual active or potentially active research concern; Determine whether the project is likely to interfere with the program or projects of other scholars ....”

The Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association also requires that an anthropologist must "consult actively with the affected individuals or group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved". This requirement is similar to the Code of Ethics of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists, Inc: "A member shall respect the professional interests of colleagues ... The consultant should not knowingly compete with another for employment to the detriment of professional standards."

Moreover, the Canadian Archaeological Association Principles of Ethical Conduct states: “respect colleagues, and cooperate with them.”

Perhaps, the Archaeological Studies Program (ASP) can claim exemption from these requirements by saying it does not have a code of ethics. It may even claim ignorance of the subject. Indeed, its website does not show that the teachers of the ASP follow a set of archaeological ethics. But, curiously, the Archaeological Society of the ASP, which is composed of students, claim to follow such a code.11 What this code contains, however, is not shown online.

Moreover, nine days before the ASP dug in Huluga without permission from the landowners, and without coordinating with local archaeologists, KAPI had held a workshop on archaeological code of ethics on October 20, 2004. Many members of the ASP are also members of KAPI.

The Solheim Foundation Bulletin, October to December 2004 issue, has this report about the workshop:

"Finally, a code of ethics the Philippine archaeological community can call its own. A workshop for the completion of the Code of Ethics was held last October 20, 2004, at the National Museum, along with the annual Katipunan Arkeologist ng Pilipinas Inc. business meeting.

"Presided over by National Museum archaeologist Amalia dela Torre, KAPI members from all over the Philippines discussed and debated the proposed code of ethics that was adapted from the codes of the Society of American Archaeologists [sic] and the Society of Professional Archaeologists.

"The draft includes eight principles archaeologists should adhere to: stewardship, accountability, commercialization, public education, intellectual property, publication, records and preservation, and training.” At the end of the workshop, the proposed code was turned over to the KAPI Executive Board for fine-tuning and final approval."

The Solheim webpage appears to have disappeared, but a copy of the bulletin is still available.

I placed “sic” because the correct name is The Society for American Archaeology (SAA). The SAA code of ethics states: "Archaeologists should reach out to, and participate in cooperative efforts with others interested in the archaeological record with the aim of improving the preservation, protection, and interpretation of the record." The Society follows the code of ethics of the RPA.

HCA has no copy of the KAPI code of ethics, so we don’t know what KAPI adopted from the RPA code. But in February 2005, Angeles met Montalvan in Manila. Angeles said, "I told Sandy Salcedo and Victor Paz that you (Salcedo and Paz) have broken archaeological ethics in Cagayan de Oro because archaeological ethics dictates that local archaeologists always enjoy primary preference." Dr. Salcedo is also a faculty member of the ASP.

Rally in Obsidian Hill Lourd Ostique sky
Rally in Obsidian Hill, September 30, 2003, during the inauguration of the bridge that split the Huluga archaeological site.
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11 The webpage http://www.upd.edu.ph/~asp/archaeosoc.html no longer mentions the code of ethics. But a copy of the original page shows that the ASP is not only aware of the existence of a code of ethics for archaeology, but that it is considered worthy to be followed, at least by students of the ASP.


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© Elson T. Elizaga