Code of conduct PDF Print E-mail
Written by Institute of Field Archæologists   
Friday, 29 June 2007 22:08

By-laws of the Institute of Field Archaeologists
Code of conduct
Revised edition, October 2006

The object of the Code is to promote those standards of conduct and self-discipline required of an archaeologist in the interests of the public and in the pursuit of archaeological research.

Archaeology is the study of the nature and past behaviour of human beings in their environmental setting. It is carried out through the investigation and interpretation of the material remains of human activities, which together constitute the archaeological heritage. The archaeological heritage is a finite, vulnerable and diminishing resource.

The fuller understanding of our past provided by archaeology is part of society’s common heritage and it should be available to everyone. Because of this, and because the archaeological heritage is an irreplaceable resource, archaeologists both corporately and individually have a responsibility to help conserve the archaeological heritage, to use it economically in their work, to conduct their studies in such a way that reliable information may be acquired, and to disseminate the results of their studies.

Subscription to this Code of conduct for individuals engaged in archaeology assumes acceptance of these responsibilities. Those who subscribe to it and carry out its provisions will thereby be identified as persons professing specific standards of competence, responsibility and ethical behaviour in the pursuit of archaeological work.

The Code indicates the general standard of conduct to which members of the Institute are expected to adhere, failing which its governing body may judge them guilty of conduct unbecoming to a member of the Institute and may either reprimand, suspend or expel them. The Institute from time to time produces written standards and guidance for the execution of archaeological projects, and policy statements. All members are advised to respect such standards, guidance and policy statements in the interests of good professional practice; a full list of the IFA Standard and guidance documents published to date will be found in the ‘Further reading’

The Code of conduct was formally ratified and adopted as a by-law of the Institute at the Annual General Meeting held on 3 June 1985, and amended by Ordinary Resolutions passed at Annual General Meetings held on 12 September 1988, 17 September 1993, 14 October 1994, 22 September 1995, 11 September 1996, 10 September 1997 and 7 September 2000. It should be read in conjunction with the Memorandum and Articles of Association, Code of approved practice for the regulation of contractual arrangements in field archaeology, Disciplinary regulations and Standard and guidance documents (by-law enacted under Article 44, pursuant to Clause 3 of the Memorandum).

Principle 1

The archaeologist shall adhere to the highest standards of ethical and responsible behaviour in the conduct of archaeological affairs.

1.1 An archaeologist shall conduct himself or herself in a manner which will not bring archaeology or the Institute into disrepute.
1.2 An archaeologist shall present archaeology and its results in a responsible manner and shall avoid and discourage exaggerated, misleading or unwarranted statements about archaeological matters.
1.3 An archaeologist shall not offer advice, make a public statement, or give legal testimony involving archaeological matters, without being as thoroughly informed on the matters concerned as might reasonably be expected.
1.4 An archaeologist shall not undertake archaeological work for which he or she is not adequately qualified. He or she should ensure that adequate support, whether of advice, personnel or facilities, has been arranged.1
1.5 An archaeologist shall give appropriate credit for work done by others, and shall not commit plagiarism in oral or written communication, and shall not enter into conduct that might unjustifiably injure the reputation of another archaeologist.2
1.6 An archaeologist shall know and comply with all laws applicable to his or her archaeological activities whether as employer or employee, and with national and international agreements relating to the illicit import, export or transfer of ownership of archaeological material. An archaeologist shall not engage in, and shall seek to discourage, illicit or unethical dealings in antiquities.
1.7 An archaeologist shall abstain from, and shall not sanction in others, conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in archaeological matters, nor knowingly permit the use of his/her name in support of activities involving such conduct.
1.8 An archaeologist, in the conduct of his/her archaeological work, shall not offer or accept inducements which could reasonably be construed as bribes.
1.9 [deleted]
1.10 An archaeologist shall not reveal confidential information unless required by law; nor use confidential or privileged information to his/her own advantage or that of a third person.3
1.11 An archaeologist shall take account of the legitimate concerns of groups whose material past may be the subject of archaeological investigation.
1.12 An archaeologist has a duty to ensure that this Code is observed throughout the membership of the Institute, and also to encourage its adoption by others (see note on Rule 1.12).4
1.13 An archaeologist shall ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, that all work for which he/she is directly or indirectly responsible by virtue of his/her position in the organisation undertaking the work, is carried out in accordance with this Code.
1.14 An archaeologist may find himself/herself in an ethical dilemma where he/she is confronted by competing loyalties, responsibilities or duties. In such circumstances an archaeologist shall act in accordance with the Principles of the Code of conduct.

Principle 2
The archaeologist has a responsibility for the conservation of the archaeological heritage.


2.1 An archaeologist shall strive to conserve archaeological sites and material as a resource for study and enjoyment now and in the future and shall encourage others to do the same. Where such conservation is not possible he/she shall seek to ensure the creation and maintenance of an adequate record through appropriate forms of research, recording and dissemination of results.5
2.2 Where destructive investigation is undertaken the archaeologist shall ensure that it causes minimal attrition of the archaeological heritage consistent with the stated objects of the project.6
2.3 An archaeologist shall ensure that the objects of a research project are an adequate justification for the destruction of the archaeological evidence which it will entail.

Principle 3

The archaeologist shall conduct his/her work in such a way that reliable information about the past may be acquired, and shall ensure that the results be properly recorded.

3.1 The archaeologist shall keep himself/herself informed about developments in his/her field or fields of specialisation.
3.2 An archaeologist shall prepare adequately for any project he/she may undertake.
3.3 An archaeologist shall ensure that experimental design, recording, and sampling procedures, where relevant, are adequate for the project in hand.
3.4 An archaeologist shall ensure that the record resulting from his/her work is prepared in a comprehensible, readily usable and durable form.
3.5 An archaeologist shall ensure that the record, including artefacts and specimens and experimental results, is maintained in good condition while in his/her charge and shall seek to ensure that it is eventually deposited where it is likely to receive adequate curatorial care and storage conditions and to be readily available for study and examination.
3.6 An archaeologist shall seek to determine whether a project he/she undertakes is likely detrimentally to affect research work or projects of other archaeologists. If there is such likelihood, he/she shall attempt to minimise such effects.

Principle 4

The archaeologist has responsibility for making available the results of archaeological work with reasonable dispatch.

4.1 An archaeologist shall communicate and cooperate with colleagues having common archaeological interests and give due respect to colleagues’ interests in, and rights to information about sites, areas, collections or data where there is a shared field of concern, whether active or potentially so.
4.2 An archaeologist shall accurately and without undue delay prepare and properly disseminate an appropriate record of work done under his/her control.7
4.3 An archaeologist shall honour requests from colleagues or students for information on the results of research or projects if consistent with his/her prior rights to publication and with his/her other archaeological responsibilities.8
4.4 An archaeologist is responsible for the analysis and publication of data derived from projects under his/her control. While the archaeologist exercises this responsibility he/she shall enjoy consequent rights of primacy. However, failure to prepare or publish the results within 10 years of completion of the fieldwork shall be construed as a waiver of such rights, unless such failure can reasonably be attributed to circumstances beyond the archaeologist’s control.9
4.5 An archaeologist, in the event of his/her failure to prepare or publish the results within 10 years of completion of the fieldwork and in the absence of countervailing circumstances, or in the event of his/her determining not to publish the results, shall if requested make data concerning the project available to other archaeologists for analysis and publication.
4.6 An archaeologist shall accept the responsibility of informing the public of the purpose and results of his/her work and shall accede to reasonable requests for information for dispersal to the general public.10
4.7 An archaeologist shall respect contractual obligations in reporting but shall not enter into a contract which prohibits the archaeologist from including his/her own interpretations or conclusions in the resulting record, or from a continuing right to use the data after completion of the project.11

Principle 5

The archaeologist shall recognise the aspirations of employees, colleagues and helpers with regard to all matters relating to employment, including career development, health and safety, terms and conditions of employment and equality of opportunity.

5.1 An archaeologist shall give due regard to the requirements of employment legislation relating to employees, colleagues or helpers.
5.2 An archaeologist shall give due regard to the requirements of health and safety legislation relating to employees or to other persons potentially affected by his or her archaeological activities.
5.3 An archaeologist shall give due regard to the requirements of legislation relating to employment discrimination on grounds of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief.
5.4 An archaeologist shall ensure that adequate insurance cover is maintained for persons or property which may be affected by his or her archaeological activities.
5.5 An archaeologist shall give due regard to the welfare of employees, colleagues and helpers in relation to terms and conditions of service. He or she shall give reasonable consideration to any IFA recommended pay minima and conditions of employment.
5.6 An archaeologist shall give reasonable consideration to cumulative service and proven experience of employees, colleagues or helpers when deciding rates of remuneration and other employment benefits, such as leave.
5.7 An archaeologist shall have due regard to the rights of individuals who wish to join or belong to a trade union, professional or trade association.
5.8 An archaeologist shall give due regard and appropriate support to the training and development of employees, colleagues or helpers to enable them to execute their duties.

1) It is the archaeologist’s duty to have regard to his/her skills, proficiencies and capabilities and to the maintenance and enhancement of these through appropriate training and learning experiences. It is the archaeologist’s responsibility to inform current or prospective employers or clients of inadequacies in his/her qualifications for any work which may be proposed; he/she may of course seek to minimise such inadequacies by acquiring additional expertise, by seeking the advice or involvement of associates or consultants, or by arranging for modifications of the work involved; similar considerations apply where an archaeologist, during the course of a project, encounters problems which lie beyond his/her competence at that time. It is also the archaeologist’s responsibility to seek adequate support services for any project in which he/she may become involved, either directly or by way of recommendation.

2) (a) The archaeologist should also consider his/her position in respect of seeking or accepting financial benefit on his/her own behalf or that of relatives in relation to the recovery or disposal of objects or materials recovered during archaeological work. (b) Archaeologists working on the foreshore and underwater may at times find themselves in difficulty regarding their association with commercial salvors and others engaged in exploiting the underwater cultural heritage. The underlying principles are 1) conserving the seabed heritage, 2) using it economically and in such a way that reliable information may be acquired, 3) dissemination of the results and 4) professional permanent curation of the total site archive. It may be a legitimate part of the archaeologist’s duty to work with commercial salvage organisations or individuals, in respect of recording sites and material, including possible museum acquisitions, and assessing sites and the work that takes place on them. In such dealings, however, archaeologists must ensure that: 1) they do not knowingly permit their names or services to be used in a manner which may promote the recovery of archaeological material unless the primary objective of their work is to preserve the scientific integrity of the total site archive in a permanent professionally curated and publicly accessible collection, and unless provision is
made for its study, interpretation and publication. 2) they do not enter into any contract or agreement whereby archaeological or curatorial standards may be compromised in deference to commercial interests. 3) so far as excavated material is concerned, they do not encourage the purchase of objects in any case where they have reasonable cause to believe that their recovery involved the deliberate unscientific destruction or damage of archaeological sites, and that they discourage the sale and consequent dispersal of excavated material. 4) they do not encourage the purchase of objects where there is reasonable cause to believe that recovery involved the failure to disclose the finds to the proper legal or governmental authorities.

3) The archaeologist should also exercise care to prevent employees, colleagues, associates and helpers from revealing or using confidential information in these ways. Confidential information means information gained in the course of the project which the employer or client has for the time being requested be held inviolate, or the disclosure of which would be potentially embarrassing or detrimental to the employer or client. Information ceases to be confidential when the employer or client so indicates, or when such information becomes publicly known. Where specifically archaeological information is involved, it is however the responsibility of the archaeologist to inform the employer or client of any conflict with his/her own responsibilities under Principle 4 of the Code (dissemination of archaeological information) and to seek to minimise or remove any such conflict.

4) From time to time the Institute receives formal or informal complaints about members and allegations of breaches of its by-laws. An archaeologist’s duty to ensure that the Code of conduct is observed includes providing information in response to a request from the Chair or a Vice Chair, and/or giving evidence to such panels and hearings as may be established for the purposes of investigating an alleged breach of the Institute’s by-laws. This requirement is without prejudice to the provisions of Rule 1.10 regarding confidential information.

5) Dissemination in these rules is taken to include the deposition of primary records and unpublished material in an accessible public archive.

6) Particular attention should be paid to this injunction in the case of projects carried out for purposes of pure research. In all projects, whether prompted by pure research or the needs of rescue, consideration should be given to the legitimate interests of other archaeologists; for example, the upper levels of a site should be conscientiously excavated and recorded, within the exigencies of the project, even if the main focus is on the underlying levels.

7) Dissemination in these rules is taken to include the deposition of primary records and unpublished material in an accessible public archive. This rule carries with it the implication that an archaeologist should not initiate, take part in or support work which materially damages the archaeological heritage unless reasonably prompt and appropriate analysis and reporting can be expected. Where results are felt to be substantial contributions to knowledge or to the advancement of theory, method or technique, they should be communicated as soon as reasonably possible to colleagues and others by means of letters, lectures, reports to meetings or interim publications, especially where full publication is likely to be significantly delayed.

8) Archaeologists receiving such information shall observe such prior rights, remembering that laws of copyright may also apply.

9) It is accepted that the movement of archaeologists from one employment to another raises problems of responsibility for the publication of projects. This ultimate responsibility for publication of a piece of work must be determined either by the contract of employment through which the work was undertaken, or by agreement with the original promoter of the work. It is the responsibility of the archaeologist, either as employer or employee, to establish a satisfactory agreement on this issue at the outset of work.

10) The archaeologist should be prepared to allow access to sites at suitable times and under controlled conditions, within limitations laid down by the funding agency or by the owners or the tenants of the site, or by considerations of safety or the well-being of the site.

11) Adherence to this rule may on occasion appear to clash with the requirements of rule 1.10. A client employer may legitimately seek to impose whatever conditions of confidentiality he/she wishes. An archaeologist should not accept conditions which require the permanent suppression of archaeological discoveries or interpretations.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 September 2009 08:37

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