Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Ethics of Commercial Archaeology: USA

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1700


Once upon a time, most archaeologists were employed by academic institutions and museums. Today in the United States and other countries, most archaeologists – and many historians, architectural historians, historical architects, and a few cultural anthropologists and geographers – are employed by profit-making commercial companies engaged in work on behalf of government agencies and private development interests. Working in this context can present ethical challenges for which many archaeologists (among others) are ill prepared.


As used here, “commercial archaeology” means archaeology conducted by profit-making commercial entities such as consulting firms. Some such firms are purely archaeological in character; others work more broadly with “heritage” or “cultural resources,” variously defined. Others are more generalized still, engaging in broad-scoped environmental impact assessment (EIA) or supporting the design, construction, and operation of dams and...

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Further Reading

  1. Elia, R. J. 2003. Contract archaeology in the United States. MATRIX – making archaeology teaching relevant in the XXI century. Available at: http://www.indiana.edu/~arch/saa/matrix/ael/ael_mod11.htm (accessed 6 November 2012).
  2. Garrow, P. H. 1993. Ethics and contract archaeology. Practicing Anthropology 15(3): 10-13.Google Scholar
  3. King, T. F. 1983. Professional responsibility in public archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology 12: 143-64. Available at: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.an.12.100183.001043 (accessed 6 November 2012).
  4. Stapp, D. C. & J. Longnecker. 2009. Avoiding archaeological disasters: risk management for heritage professionals. Walnut Creek (CA): Left Coast.Google Scholar
  5. U.S. National Park Service. n.d. Archeology law and ethics. Available at: http://www.nps.gov/history/archeology/public/publicLaw.htm (accessed 5 November 2012).

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Silver SpringUSA