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The Archaeological Studies Program: Violating Archaeological Ethics

By Elson T. Elizaga

Published April 11, 2011. Updated August 18, 2023. Some dead links to the mentioned book have been retained.

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A book by a graduate of the Archaeological Studies Program (ASP) of the University of the Philippines is giving the ASP another black eye. The book is "The Transforming Ethical Practice in Philippine Archaeology" written by Pamela Faylona15 and edited by Jaime Almansa Sánchez..16


I have only read the online introduction, not the entire book. Here is a portion of Faylona’s statements on page 3.

“…The Heritage Advocates Groups, headed by a social-anthropologist claiming to be an archaeologist in Cagayan de Oro, condemned the local government (specifically the mayor) over the issue of a bridge being constructed over an archaeological site without first conducting a proper Archaeological Impact Assessment as required by existing laws. When the mayor approved a research project conducted by the UP-ASP, this same Advocate Group inflicted malice into the agreement, thus, called the nationally recognized archaeologists “unethical” (See Sun Star issues of November 4 and 12-13, 2004).”

My comments: First, there is no Heritage Advocates Groups or Advocate Group in Cagayan de Oro. But there is the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA).

Second, the HCA never condemned the local government and the mayor. If Faylona writes "heritage conservation advocates condemn" in Google, she will discover that the Historical and Cultural Commission (HISCOMM) of City Hall condemned the HCA instead.

Third, the HCA did not "inflict malice into the agreement" between mayor Vicente Yap Emano and the ASP for ASP to conduct an alleged science research on Huluga. Facts, not malice, showed that ASP ignored Dr. Erlinda Burton, an archaeologist, when they prepared and made the research, an act which Burton called unethical because codes of major archaeological groups require cooperation among archaeologists.

The Code of Ethics of The Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), for example, 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 ... 2.2 AN ARCHAEOLOGIST SHALL NOT: i. Falsely or maliciously attempt to injure the reputation of another archaeologist ....”

Fourth, the HCA is not "headed by a social-anthropologist claiming to be an archaeologist" but a cultural anthropologist who is also an archaeologist: Dr. Erlinda Montillo Burton. Burton is the curator of Museo de Oro of Xavier University.

Inserted on Sept. 16, 2018.
Dr. Erlinda Montillo Burton passed away in the morning of Sept. 11, 2018.

From 1965 to 1968, Burton studied Master of Arts in Anthropology, specializing in Archaeology at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA. Her thesis was "A Study of the Prehistoric Settlement Patterns of the Provo Area in Central Utah, USA."17

In 1967, she participated in the Archaeological Field Training in Calico Archaeological Project, Yermo, California, under the directorship of Louis S. B. Leakey. In 1983, Burton earned her doctorate degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Prior to the creation of the Internet, research on professionals used to be difficult, but today, Faylona could have easily used Google to get instant information about Burton. Faylona could also write an email to Brigham Young University and ask the National Museum because Burton used to work there. She is free to write to Burton.

If Faylona had done these, she would sufficiently prove herself to be fair, ethical and scientific. She can even proudly claim to be an archaeologist. End

Cover of Burton's thesis
Acceptance of Burton's thesis
Diploma of Dr. Erlinda M. Burton from Brigham Young University
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Jaime Almansa Sánchez is the owner of Jasarqueologia, an online journal about public archaeology.

16 Faylona resigned from the National Museum in 2014 days before a scheduled investigation. The links to her book and introduction to her book generated a "Not Found" message when accessed on September 15, 2018. The book, however, is advertised for sale in Jas Arqueologia.

17 Adrien Carole Mooney's thesis at the Department of Anthropology, Brigham Young University, dated March 2014, mentions Erlinda D. Montillo [Burton]. Excerpt from page 37:

"Erlinda Montillo’s (1968) Master’s thesis focused on prehistoric settlement patterns in central Utah, which involved interviewing owners of farmland in the Provo River delta. Montillo utilized a map created by Matheny to survey and locate 38 sites in the area between the Provo airport and Fort Utah, including the Hinckley and Seamons mounds."

Mooney's thesis has two titles: 1) An Analysis of the Archaeological Work of the Provo River Delta, Utah (2014), and 2) A Synthesis of 20th-Century Archaeological Work at Fremont Sites in the Provo River Delta, Utah.

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