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The Ethics of Archaeology
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  • Page extent: 332 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.647 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 174.99301
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: n/a
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Archaeologists--Professional ethics
    • Archaeology--Moral and ethical aspects
    • Antiquities--Collection and preservation--Moral and ethical aspects

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521840118 | ISBN-10: 0521840112)

The question of ethics and their role in archaeology has stimulated one of the discipline's liveliest debates. In this collection of essays, first published in 2006, an international team of archaeologists, anthropologists and philosophers explore the ethical issues archaeology needs to address. Marrying the skills and expertise of practitioners from different disciplines, the collection produces interesting insights into many of the ethical dilemmas facing archaeology today. Topics discussed include relations with indigenous peoples; the professional standards and responsibilities of researchers; the role of ethical codes; the notion of value in archaeology; concepts of stewardship and custodianship; the meaning and moral implications of 'heritage'; the question of who 'owns' the past or the interpretation of it; the trade in antiquities; the repatriation of skeletal material; and treatment of the dead. This important collection is essential reading for all those working in the field of archaeology, be they scholar or practitioner.

• Explores one of the most engaging debates in archaeology, that of the role of ethics in archaeological research • Takes an interdisciplinary approach which embraces archaeology, anthropology and philosophy • An international team of specialists in their fields offers interesting insights into the issues generated by the current debate


List of contributors; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction Chris Scarre and Geoffrey Scarre; Part I. The Ownership of Cultural Objects: 2. Cultures and the ownership of archaeological finds James O. Young; 3. Who guards the guardians? Oliver Leaman; 4. Is culture a commodity? Robert Layton and Gillian Wallace; 5. Moral arguments on subsistence digging Julie Hollowell; Part II. Archaeologists and the Living: 6. Human subjects review and archaeology: a view from Indian country Jeffrey C. Bendremer and Kenneth A. Richman; 7. Trust and archaeological practice: towards a framework of virtue ethics Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh and T. J. Ferguson; 8. Truthfulness and 'inclusion' in archaeology David E. Cooper; 9. Ethics and native American reburials: a philosopher's view of two decades of NAGPRA Douglas P. Lackey; 10. Stewardship gone astray? Ethics and the SAA Leo Groarke and Gary Warrick; Part III. Archaeologists and the Dead: 11. Can archaeology harm the dead? Geoffrey Scarre; 12. Archaeological ethics and the people of the past Sarah Tarlow; Part IV. The Common Heritage of Humankind?: 13. A plea for responsibility towards the common heritage of mankind Sandra M. Dingli; 14. The ethics of the World Heritage concept Atle Omland; 15. What value a unicorn's horn? A study of archaeological uniqueness and value Robin Coningham, Rachel Cooper and Mark Pollard; References; Index.


'… a provocative, thoughtful and entirely engaging read. The key to its success is that each chapter, variously written by ten archaeologists, seven philosophers and four anthropologists … relates its arguments to real, mostly contemporary situations and events, many familiar. This is both a stimulating read and, in its separate parts, a thinking handbook.' British Archaeology

'The Ethics of Archaeology covers a wide range of intellectual territory, ranging from philosophy to legal frameworks, from indigenous viewpoints to the practical application of ethical standards and from the role of trust in virtue ethics to the role of institutional review boards in regulating human subject research. It admirably accomplishes its stated goal 'to promote dialogue between archaeologists, anthropologists and philosophers on significant ethical issues raised by the contemporary practice of archaeology'. … Reflecting as this does significant divisions within the discipline, this multiplicity of voices and viewpoints is to the credit of the editors of each volume.' European Journal of Archaeology

'… carefully planned and assembled … and rewarding …' Cambridge Archaeological Journal


Chris Scarre, Geoffrey Scarre, James O. Young, Oliver Leaman, Robert Layton, Gillian Wallace, Julie Hollowell, Jeffrey C. Bendremer, Kenneth A. Richman, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, T. J. Ferguson, David E. Cooper, Douglas P. Lackey, Leo Groarke, Gary Warrick, Sarah Tarlow, Sandra M. Dingli, Atle Omland, Robin Coningham, Rachel Cooper, Mark Pollard

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