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An Argument for Ethical, Proactive, Archaeologist-Artifact Collector Collaboration

  • Bonnie L. Pitblado (a1)

This essay addresses the contentious issue of collaboration between archaeologists and artifact collectors. I argue that in many instances, alienating members of the collecting public is not just bad practice; such alienation itself also violates the Society for American Archaeology's (SAA's) Principles of Archaeological Ethics. I make my case by first exploring the SAA's ethical code. I focus initially on “stewardship” and “commercialization,” which many cite as reasons for rejecting relationships with artifact collectors. I then discuss other SAA principles that support the perspective that archaeologists should actively reach out to citizens with private collections whenever possible. Second, I present a case study exploring what the Clovis archaeological record might look like had archaeologists rejected the overtures of a century of collectors who brought Pleistocene finds to the attention of professionals. Had practitioners accepted only those Clovis sites free of collector involvement, our understanding of Clovis lifeways would be quite different from what it is today. This essay has two messages. First, collectors can advance, and have advanced, archaeology by reaching out to archaeologists willing to reach back. Second, our own code of ethics suggests that responsibly engaging artifact collectors is not just “okay,” it is its own ethical imperative.


Este ensayo se refiere al polémico asunto de la colaboración entre arqueólogos y coleccionistas de artefactos. Yo argumento que en muchos casos, apartar miembros coleccionistas no es sólo una mala práctica sino que tal alienación transgrede “Los principios de la etica arqueológica” de la sociedad Americana de arqueología (SAA). Yo dirijo mi caso explorando en primer lugar el código ético de la SAA. Me he centrado inicialmente en la “administración “ y “comercialización.” las cuáles muchos citan como razones para rechazar relaciones con los coleccionistas de artefactos. Posteriormente, discuto otrosprincipios de SAA que apoyan la disputa de que los arqueólogos deben contactor a los ciudadanos con colecciones privadas en la medida de loposible. En segundo lugar, presento un caso de estudio al explorar cómo el registro arqueológico Clovis actual pareceria si hubiera rechazado las contribuciones de los coleccionistas que lograron exitosamente que Pleistoceno hallara la atención de los profesionales. Si Hubieran aceptado los profesionales solamente las áreas designadas por Clovis sin la participación de los coleccionistas, nuestro entendimiento de la conducta de Clovis seria muy diferente de lo que es hoy en día. Este ensayo tiene dos mensajes. Primero, los coleccionistas pueden contribuir, como ya lo han hecho, a nuestro conocimiento arqueológico al ir en búsqueda de los arqueólogos que estén dispuestos a colaborar. En segundo lugar, nuestro propio código ético sugiere que incluir los coleccionistas de artefactos no está solamente bien, sino es imperativo en su propio código ético.

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