SAAarchaeologicalrecord - Society for American Archaeology

SAAarchaeologicalrecord - Society for American Archaeology




S. Terry Childs

Terry Childs is the Chair of the SAA Committee on Curation.

SAA Ethic #7, Records and Preservation, provides a firm

foundation to support the preservation, access, and use of

archaeological collections and associated records. The

SAA Advisory Committee on Curation, in collaboration with the

SAA Standing Committee on Ethics, developed the following

guidelines to help implement Ethic #7. The SAA Board of

Directors approved these guidelines by electronic vote, which

was ratified at the 2002 SAA meetings in Denver. The SAA

Committee on Curation also sponsored a session at the 2002

SAA meetings, called “Our Collective Responsibility: The Ethics

of Archaeological Collections Stewardship,” to further expand

on these guidelines:

• The same ethic of stewardship applies to collections and

associated records as to in situ sites or other phenomena

comprising the archaeological record.

• The integrity of collections, including their associated

records, should be preserved and maintained. Field records

are an integral part of a collection and are not the permanent

property of an individual researcher or contractor.

• Field notes, photographs, maps, laboratory notes and data,

and other records require the same levels of management,

care, and preservation as artifacts and other recovered items.

Records generated during collections research and treatment

should be deposited with the collection. Data and records

created or stored in electronic formats are fragile and require

specialized long-term care and management.

• Archaeological excavation is a destructive process, and the

resulting collections are finite, nonrenewable resources.

Efforts should be made to employ existing collections and

databases to address research questions whenever possible,

and prior to initiating new excavations or other destructive


• Archaeological projects should explicitly provide for the permanent

curation of resulting collections at an appropriate

repository. Collections and associated records—including all

necessary permits and deeds of gift—should be deposited in

a timely manner. The location, accessibility to, and any

restrictions on the collections should be provided in research

and compliance reports.

• Access to archaeological collections and associated records

should be provided to qualified users for scientific, educational,

and heritage uses. Under the rare circumstances in

which access restrictions may be imposed due to issues such

as applicable law, sovereignty, and cultural sensitivity, appropriate

levels of access should be established in advance and

clearly communicated to all parties.

• As part of their training, professional archaeologists should

understand the need for and basic principles related to the

long-term preservation of archaeological collections, including

curation, collections and archives management, and

conservation. Elementary training in these areas should be

part of undergraduate and graduate level curricula in


Geochron Laboratories

high-quality radiocarbon dating

and stable isotope analyses



professional staff, quick turn-around

for paleoenvironment and dietary reconstruction,

authentification of artwork and antiquities

more than 35 years experience

711 Concord Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

t: 617-876-3691 f: 617-661-0148

6 The SAA Archaeological Record • May 2002

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