SAfA CODE OF ETHICS
1. Stewardship and cultural heritage – It is the responsibility of all archaeologists to work for the long-tem protection and sustainable management of the archaeological record by practising and promoting stewardship of that record. SAfA members acknowledge that: (a) access to knowledge from the past is an essential part of the human heritage; (b) conservation of that heritage is a preferred option; (c) accurate recording and timely dissemination of results is essential in every case, especially where conservation of that heritage is not possible; (d) and archaeological activities should be no more invasive/destructive than is required by mitigation circumstances or comprehensive research goals.
2. Accountability – Responsible archaeological work in Africa and its diasporas is conducted by qualified professionals, and is based on establishing a positive working relationship with all of the parties involved. This includes local people, institutions such as museums and universities and appropriate government and trans-national agencies. At the local level, it is essential to obtain appropriate permissions (either verbal or written), to respect traditional beliefs and to restore the site in a timely fashion, unless superceding factors, such as conservation, the construction of display facilities or the wishes of the local community, intervene. Members of SAfA recognise and respect the role of African and African diaspora communities in matters relating to their cultural heritage. They support the development and maintenance of archaeological research and heritage management capabilities in all African countries.
3. Public Education and Outreach – One fundamental element of stewardship is the sharing of knowledge about archaeological topics with a broader public. SAfA members are responsible for: (a) explaining the nature and results of their research both locally and nationally within African countries, as well as internationally; (b) promoting public interest in, and knowledge of, Africa’s past; (c) encouraging both African and non-African publics to support and involve themselves in archaeological stewardship; (d) supporting and being accessible to archaeological and other heritage organisations, both within Africa and beyond the continent.
4. Professional Standards – Before undertaking any activity that destroys a portion of the archaeological record, SAfA members will: (a) possess adequate training, support, resources and facilities for excavation, recording, analysis and curation; (b) comply with all relevant legislation and research protocols; (c) produce appropriate and comprehensive documentation in a timely fashion; (d) properly curate and house materials and documentation in appropriate national/regional/local collections facilities; and (e) avoid any form of discrimination based on gender, religion, age, race, disability, or sexual orientation.
5. Intellectual property – Intellectual property, as contained in the knowledge and documents created through the study of archaeological resources, is part of the archaeological record. As such it should be treated in accord with the principles of stewardship rather than as a matter of personal possession. If there is a compelling reason, and no legal restrictions or strong countervailing interests, a researcher may have primary access to original materials and documents for a limited and reasonable time, after which these materials and documents must be made available to others. SAfA members also recognise the intellectual property of the communities and individuals among whom they work.
6. Commercialisation – SAfA recognizes that the buying and selling of archaeological objects is contributing to the destruction of the archaeological record on the African continent and around the world. It is the responsibility of archaeologists to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities to these threats to the archaeological heritage, including the plundering of sites and the illicit trade in antiquities, and to use all the means at their disposal to ensure that action is taken in such cases by the appropriate authorities. Wherever possible, they should discourage, and avoid, activities that enhance the commercial value of archaeological objects, especially objects that are not curated in public institutions, or readily available for scientific study, public interpretation and display. SAfA members will not engage in, or allow their names to be associated with, any form of activity relating to the illicit trade in antiquities and works of art, covered by the 1970 UNESCO Convention and similar international agreements on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property. Furthermore, SAfA members will also, to the best of their ability, work actively to combat any such activities by the institutions to which they are affiliated.
7. Records and Preservation – Archaeologists should work actively for the preservation of, and long-term access to, archaeological collections, records, and reports. To this end, they should encourage colleagues, students, and others to make responsible use of collections, records and reports in their research as one means of preserving the in situ archaeological record, and of increasing the care and attention given to that portion of the archaeological record which has been removed and incorporated into archaeological collections, records, and reports.
8. Responsible use of documents, knowledge, and collections – The free flow of archaeological information is a key element in furthering understanding of the past. This is jeopardised when information is misused, through failure to give appropriate credit for work done by others or outright plagiarism of oral or written communications.