Managing Archaeology in the Early Twenty-first Century
This chapter provides an overview of the diversity of archaeological work and how it is regulated. It begins with descriptions of the four major domains of archaeology, along with the widely recognized subfields and specialties of archaeological research. This is followed by outlines of laws and other instruments that govern archaeology; the codes of ethics to which archaeologists adhere; and the ways in which archaeologists share information.
After studying this chapter, students should be able to
- identify and describe the four major types of archaeology.
- explain the major differences between academic and CRM archaeology.
- describe the major subfields and specialties within archaeology.
- outline the principal legislation that governs archaeology in North America.
- outline the principal agreements that govern archaeological research and protection of heritage resources internationally.
- outline the ethical issues in archaeology.
- define all the glossary terms found in the chapter.
academic archaeology – Archaeology undertaken for intellectual or scholarly reasons and based primarily in colleges, universities, and research museums and institutes. (p.53)
archaeobiology – A subfield of archaeology focusing on animal and botanical remains recovered from archaeological sites. Archaeobiology includes both archaeobotany and zooarchaeology. (p.59)
archaeobotany – A subfield of archaeology focusing on plant remains recovered from archaeological sites; also known as paleoethnobotany. (p.57)
archaeometry – Archaeology associated with the methods of natural sciences, such as math and physics, usually used in the analysis of materials. (p.57)
armchair archaeology – A phrase used to describe both professionals and amateurs who focus on describing or explaining what others have done, without participating in fieldwork themselves. (p.59)
biblical archaeology – Archaeology that focuses on peoples, places, and events mentioned in the Bible. (p.57)
bioarchaeology – The study of human remains from archaeological sites. (p.59)
ceramic – Baked clay. (p.57)
classical archaeology – Archaeology focusing on the empires of ancient Greece and Rome. (p.57)
colonial archaeology – Archaeology focusing on the time periods and places under European colonial rule, especially in Australia, Canada, and the United States. (p.57)
descendant communities – A group of people who can trace their ancestry to others who lived in an area. In archaeology, descendant community usually refers to the Indigenous Peoples of a region. (p.72)
dirt archaeology – Fieldwork, including looking for and excavating archaeological sites. (p.59)
ecological archaeology – Archaeology focusing on the relationships between people and natural environments. (p.59)
Egyptology – A multidisciplinary field of study focusing on ancient Egyptian civilization. Prominent specialties within Egyptology include archaeology, history, and art. (p.57)
exoarchaeology – A subfield of archaeology focusing on the physical remains of human space exploration. (p.62)
forensic archaeology – Archaeology done in the context of criminal investigations, including the search for evidence using archaeological methods and the identification of human remains. (p.57)
garbology – The study of fresh household trash and contemporary landfills. (p.59)
geoarchaeology – Archaeology focusing on sediments from sites and the reconstruction of abiotic environments, including natural landscapes. (p.57)
gray literature – Archaeological reports with limited distribution. (p.55)
historic archaeology – Focuses on a time period in an area for which written records exist. Also known as historical archaeology. (p.57)
Indigenous archaeology – Archaeology done by, with, or for Indigenous Peoples; most often associated with the Aborigines of Australia, Native Americans of the United States, and First Nations of Canada. Indigenous archaeology represents an attempt to bring oppressed and neglected theoretical and methodological approaches informed by Indigenous groups to the forefront of anthropological scholarship. (p.53)
industrial archaeology – industrial archaeology: A subfield focusing on sites and objects of heavy industry such as mining, logging, and power generation. (p.59)
knowledge mobilization – An umbrella term used to describe multiple ways of sharing knowledge between researchers and knowledge users, including both academic and non-academic groups. (p.77)
lithic – In archaeology, usually means stone tool or the waste from stone tool manufacture. (p.57)
megaliths – A large stone, often in association with others and forming an alignment or monument, such as at Stonehenge and Carnac. (p.73)
Mesolithic – The time period from about 11,000 to 9,000 years ago; not commonly used outside of Europe. (p.57)
Neolithic – The time period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago; not commonly used outside of Europe. (p.57)
New World – The Americas. (p.59)
Old World – Africa, Asia, and Europe. (p.59)
osteology – The study of the human skeleton. (p.59)
palaeoanthropology – The study of early human biology and culture. (p.57)
Palaeolithic – The time period from about 2.5 million to about 11,000 years ago; commonly referred to as the “Old Stone Age” and subdivided into the Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic. (p.57)
post-colonial archaeology – Post-colonial archaeology refers to attempts to radically transform anthropology and archaeology by privileging the voices from people historically on the periphery of the field and from cultures that have been written about by anthropologists and colonized in the past. See also decolonization and Indigenous archaeology. (p.59)
pothunter – A generic term used to describe a person who loots archaeological sites. (p.57)
pre-Columbian archaeology – Archaeology focusing on the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus; usually used to describe the archaeology of the large chiefdoms and states of Mesoamerica, such as the Maya and Aztec. (p.57)
prehistoric archaeology – Archaeology focusing on a time period before which written records exist in a given area. (p.57)
shovelbum – A term applied to itinerant archaeological fieldworkers, who often go from project to project working for various employers in the CRM industry. (p.55)
space archaeology – The study of how humans’ desire to explore the “last frontier” – space – has left material traces on Earth, the Moon, Mars, and in orbit. (p. 62)
tangible heritage – The material aspect of heritage, such as artifacts and sites; compared to intangible heritage, which includes such things as folklore and traditions. (p.62)
underwater archaeology – Archaeology that focuses on sites and objects underwater, including shipwrecks. (p.59)
zooarchaeology – The study of animal remains from archaeological sites. (p.57)
Ethics in Archaeological Fieldwork
Muckle, Robert. 2018. "Archaeological Fieldwork.." In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by Claire Smith. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Capelotti, P.J. 2010. The Human Archaeology of Space: Lunar, Planetary, and Interstellar Relics of Exploration. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
Gorman, Alice. 2019. Dr. Space Junk vs the Universe: Archaeology and the Future. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Code of Ethics
Selected Heritage Regulations
There are many regulations at local, regional, national, and international levels that have important implications for archaeology.
NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) is one of several laws in the United States that have implications for archaeology. The act protects Native American sites and provides for the repatriation of human remains and associated artifacts previously taken.
The United Nations, primarily through UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has several regulations protecting heritage sites, including, but not limited to the links below. The Hague Convention of 1954 and the second protocol of 1999 essentially state that in times of conflict, heritage sites should not be targeted for destruction. The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage established the list of world heritage sites.
Each of the following sites is on the list of World Heritage Sites maintained by UNESCO, except Slack Farm. The links lead to the descriptions, which include photos and the rationale for its designation a World Heritage Site. Where the official UNESCO designation differs from the name in the chapter, the UNESCO description is provided in parentheses.