Ethics in Anthropology

Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA


Professional Associations: Codes of Ethics and Conduct
Professional Associations: Related Codes & Information
Case Studies ~~Ethical Issues and Controversies ~~ Other Anthropology Ethics Materials

Additional Resources

Professional Associations

Codes of Ethics and Conduct:

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS): Bylaws
Professionals from the field of physical anthropology are just part of the diverse group that makes up the membership of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). The AAFS Bylaws page not only outlines the rules and regulations of the group, but it also includes a section about codes of ethics and conduct.

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

The Public Anthropology Web site has information about a proposal to revise the AAA Code of Ethics. More information about this initiative can be found at

American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA): Code of Ethics
The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) began in 1930 with 80 charter members, and that membership has grown to include more than 1,500 individuals from around the world. AAPA is the leading professional association for physical anthropologists. A draft version of the AAPA Code of Ethics has been recently added to the organization's site, and it is available in HTML and PDF versions.

American Cultural Resources Association Code of Ethics (ACRA)
ACRA was formed in 1995 and was designed to serve the needs of the cultural resources industry. This organization's code of ethics was drafted so the public could see the principles that its members strive to uphold.

American Society of Primatologists (ASP): The Long-Term Care of Chimpanzees

ASP is an educational and scientific organization that focuses on the study of non-human primates. This organization's ethics page outlines the ASP standards for the ethical treatment of non-human primates in research.

Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)
AIA is the oldest and largest archaeological organization in North American. It is dedicated to supporting archaeological research and protecting the world's cultural heritage.

Association of Social Anthropology (ASA): Ethical Guidelines for Good Research Practice
Social anthropologists, like many other researchers, face ethical dilemmas out in the field. ASA, a group founded in 1946 and dedicated to the study and teaching of social anthropology, has outlined ethical standards for members to follow.

European Association of Archaeologists (EAA): Codes
EAA is a membership-based association of archaeologists and others interested in this area of study. Over 1100 members from more than 41 countries and involved in prehistory, classical, medieval and later archaeology belong to EAA. This site provides links to the EAA Code of Practice and Code of Conduct. Italian and Spanish versions of these codes are also available.

International Council of Museums (ICOM)
This organization considers its detailed code of ethics policy to be a type of "self-regulation" mechanism that outlines performance standards for its members.

National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA)-Ethical Guidelines for Practitioners

The development of the NAPA Ethical Guidelines for Practitioners was a collaborative process between NAPA and the Southern California Applied Anthropology Network (SCAAN). This document was developed as a "guide to the professional and ethical responsibilities that practicing anthropologists should uphold."

Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA): Codes of Conduct
This association consists of members who have agreed to abide by certain rules and standards of professional conduct. RPA even has a grievance procedure, which allows for the investigation of complaints against member professional conduct.

Society for American Archaeology (SAA): Principles of Archaeological Ethics
SAA is an international organization that is dedicated to the "research, interpretation and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas." This group recognizes that archaeologists face many dilemmas while in the field and have set up these ethical guidelines to assist members in dealing with those challenges.

Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA)

The "Ethical & Professional Responsibilities" section of the SfAA site is intended to be a guide to professional behavior for its members.

The Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)
No separate ethics page is available on the SHA page, but the organization's ethical positions are outlined in the bylaws section of this site.

Statement of Ethics for the American Folklore Society (AFS)
The AFS Board of Directors has approved this ethics statement, but the group still considers it to be a document that will change and evolve over time. This statement is to be used to help clarify the responsibilities of professional folklorists.

World Archaeological Congress (WAC)
WAC is an international forum for people interested in the research of the past. The code of ethics for this organization has two different sections: 1) principles to abide by; and 2) rules to adhere to.

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Related Codes & Information:

American Sociological Association (ASA)
The ASA code outlines the professional responsibilities and conduct of sociologist. ASA has a "Policies and Procedures" page at that describes its Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE).

American Statistical Association (ASA)

This site, provided by the American Statistical Association Committee on Professional Ethics, is intended to facilitate and encourage dialog about statistical ethics.

The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research

The Belmont Report is a summary of the ethics principles outlined at the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. Specific recommendations are not given in this particular Commission report.

Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA)
Members of the Canadian Archaeological Association include professionals, students and members of the general public who have an interest in the archaeological heritage of Canada. The "Principles of Ethical Conduct" page, as well as other sections of the site, is accessible in English or French.

Declaration of Helsinki
The Declaration of Helsinki was developed by the World Medical Association to act as an ethics guide to those involved in medical research involving human subjects.

Middle East Studies Association (MESA)
MESA's ethics committee has outlined a statement that addresses issues that arise in the areas of teaching, research and publishing in the Middle East. A policy on plagiarism is also included in the statement.

Professions of Duplexity: A Prehistory of Ethical Codes in Anthropology
Peter Pels, University of Amsterdam, discusses the renewed interest in the U. S. and countries around the world in developing codes of ethics for the field of anthropology. Pels discusses why this shift has occurred and how it relates to the scientific truth.

Sierra Club Archaeological Sites Policy
The Sierra Club believes that “the protection and preservation of archaeological resources should be considered a priority in all actions taken or promoted by the Sierra Club.” Five main points that are advocated by the Sierra Club are detailed on this site.

The Society for Economic Botany (SEB)
SEB, established in 1959, is considered to be the world's largest and most respected society for individuals dedicated to the ethnological study of plants. At least 1000 individuals from all 50 U. S. states and representing more than 64 countries make up the membership of this organization. The goal of SEB is to "foster and encourage scientific research, education, and related activities on the past, present, and future uses of plants, and the relationship between plants and people, and to make the results of such research available to the scientific community and the general public through meetings and publications."

An Ethics Index section is provided at this site, and it includes resources such as the SEB Code of Ethics, Codes from other related professional associations, and teaching ethics materials. The Ethics Index can be located at

Sociological Research Online

The process to develop this statement of ethical practice by the British Sociological Association was helped in part by the codes produced by the American Sociological Association, the Association of Social Anthropologist of the Commonwealth and the Social Research Association.

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Case Studies

Case Studies
Karen Supak designed this site to be used as a scholarly resource for those interested in biological anthropology or related fields. Her "Case Studies" section has 5 different anthropology-related case studies to investigate.

Cases on Research Ethics
The case studies posted at this site are intended to facilitate discussions about scientific integrity. They are general scenarios and are not anthropology specific.

The Gladiator Sparrow: Ethical Issues in Behavioral Research on Captive Populations of Wild Animals
A graduate student in psychobiology is studying the development of aggressive behaviors in non-human animals. She decides to test environmental influences on the development of these aggressive behaviors in gladiator sparrows, and she encounters a few problems during the research process. Discussion questions and commentaries follow the scenario.

Commentaries on this case can be found at:

**Numerous cases and commentaries on graduate research ethics cases can be found at**

Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology
The American Anthropological Association has two different "chapters" with a total of 25 case studies. Twelve cases can be found in "Chapter 3: Cases and Solutions" and 13 cases can be found in "Chapter 4: Cases and Comments." Both chapters are good places to start for anthropological scenarios.

Smithsonian Institution: Anthropology Outreach Office--Ethical Dilemmas
This site that is part of a teacher packet provides an outline of how instructors can organize discussions on ethical issues and dilemmas faced by anthropologists in the field. Six cases are provided along with a set of questions that are designed to stimulate discussions on the topics.

Society for American Archaeology Bulletin 16(4) From the Ethics Committee
This site posts two of the four invented ethical issue scenarios presented at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) forum in Seattle.

The Society for Economic Botany (SEB): Teaching Ethics--Ethical Dilemmas
Dr. Will McClutchey, from the University of Hawaii, has contributed the 15 different questions/scenarios that appear on this SEB site, and they are designed to spark ethical discussions in the classroom. Topics include using narcotics in cultures where that activity is introduced, developing relationships with tribal people and becoming indoctrinated into a particular religious sect in order to participate in secret ceremonies.

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Ethical Issues and Controversies

Professional Association Statements on Issues:

American Anthropological Association (AAA): Statements
The Council of the AAA has adopted a general statement on the responsibilities anthropologists must adhere to in order to ethically perform in this profession. A list of 15 specific statements approved by the Executive Board of the Association on issues such as race, evolution and the Cuban Trade Embargo can be found at

American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA)

The Clovis Debate:

"Clovis and Beyond" Conference
The "Clovis and Beyond" Conference held in Santa Fe, NM in 1999 was considered to be one of the "most important conferences in New World history in more than 50 years." For more information about this conference, go to the January 2000 issue of Mammoth Trumpet at

The Clovis First/Pre-Clovis Problem
This site discusses the Clovis controversy and is divided into two sections. The first provides background information on this topic, and the second discusses the author's proposed theory and its implications.

Find May Rewrite Americas' Prehistory
"Find May Rewrite Americas' Prehistory" is a Washington Post article that discusses the discovery of artifacts in South America, thousands of miles away from the Clovis site.

Monte Verde:
Links to information about the Monte Verde controversy and other resources dealing with Clovis can be found at this site.

Monte Verde and the Antiquity of Humankind in the Americas
J. M. Adovasio and D. R. Pedler address issues surrounding the Monte Verde debate in this brief article.

Monte Verde Excavation: Or Clovis Police Beat a Retreat
"Monte Verde Excavation" discusses the verification process of this pre-Clovis site.

Monte Verde Fallout
Two questions arise when debating the Monte Verde saga.

  1. What does it say about how archaeologists prove or disprove particular claims for sites?

  2. Where does it leave us in terms of when and how the Americas were colonized?
This paper, compiled by Mark Rose and published in Archaeology attempts to address those particular questions.

Monte Verde Under Fire
This article takes a look at the questions surrounding the Monte Verde site in southern Chile.

On Monte Verde: Fiedel's Confusions and Misrepresentations
Stuart Fiedel of John Milner Associates, a private archaeological contract firm in Alexandria, VA, published a non-refereed "special report" entitled "Artifact Provenience at Monte Verde: Confusion and Contradiction" in the October 1999 issue of Scientific American Discovering Archaeology (no longer available online). This site, "On Monte Verde: Fiedel's Confusions and Misrepresentations", was developed as a way to address and respond to Fiedel's allegations and "factual & interpretive mistakes."

I, Rigoberta Menchú:

Academia's Lust for Lies and Disregard for Truth
A number of professors do not care that several sections of the book, I, Rigoberta Menchú, are untrue and continue to teach it in their classes. John Leo discusses this and other issues surrounding this controversial publication in this article from the January 19, 1999 issue of the Seattle Times. Leo also examines research by David Stoll, a Middlebury College anthropologist who interviewed 120 people in Menchú's Guatemalan hometown, and who published his findings in the book entitled Rigoberta Menchú and the Story of All Guatemalans.

I, Rigoberta Menchú
Lynnette Grate, Post Colonial Literature at Western Michigan University, created this page that outlines the Menchú story. Background information, dialogues, notes, historical background of Guatemala and additional research links are provided.

I, Rigoberta Menchú?
David Stoll, an anthropologist and author of Rigoberta Menchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, argues that Rigoberta Menchú deliberately "distorted" facts in her 1983 memoir I, Rigoberta Menchú. Dante Liano examines Stoll's allegations and discusses the details surrounding this scandal in this article from the 1999 issue of Hopscotch.

I, Rigoberta Menchú Debate

The Chronicle of Higher Education set up an online discussion forum to address the issue of whether or not Rigoberta Menchú's autobiography should continue to be taught in college courses.

Salon Right On! I, Rigoberta Menchú, Liar
David Horowitz published this article in Salon about the Rigoberta Menchú controversy.

More information about the Rigoberta Menchú controversy can be found at:

Kennewick Man:

A Battle Over Bones
Andrew Slayman discusses the discovery of the Kennewick Man and the observations made from examinations of the skeleton in this January/February 1997 article from Archaeology. The controversy surrounding the Kennewick Man and Native American claims to the remains are also addressed. Links to related stories on this issue are also provided.

Additional articles and updates by Slayman and others published in Archaeology can be found at

Kennewick Man

In July, 1996, Kennewick Man was found in the Kennewick, WA area, and the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) became the agency responsible for determining what would be done with the remains. Even though the COE followed the guidelines of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), this agency's actions were challenged in Federal court. The U. S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Park Service agreed to help the COE. This site provides numerous links from reports and letters that outline the work being done by the DOI on this issue.

The Kennewick Man Case
Glynn Custred from California State University-Hayward believes that the Kennewick Man does not physically resemble any living Indian populations and indicates that the remains should not have been returned to tribal leaders. Custred states in this November 2002 issue of Science Insights that Indian activists have prevented further investigations into theories that the first Americans arrived by boat 40,000 years ago rather than through Siberia. This article discusses this issue and examines the political considerations affecting research on the Kennewick Man.

Kennewick Man--News and Information: Or How I Learned to Hate 60 Minutes
On October 31, 1998, the CBS program 60 Minutes aired a 12 minute piece on the Kennewick Man. Those who saw the program were not happy with the errors and misconceptions propagated about the Kennewick Man burial. K. Kris Hirst, a project archaeologist at Louis Berger Associates, Inc., compiled the resources found at this site to provide a better understanding about the Kennewick Man and about the controversy that surrounds this issue. Hirst provides a list of columns, bibliographies, Web resources and other materials pertaining to the Kennewick Man.

Kennewick Man News Update
This site provides information on the government's findings regarding Kennewick Man. Recent discoveries, data and additional resources on this topic are also presented.

Kennewick Man, Northern Clans, Northern Traces

When Kennewick Man was discovered in 1996, Dr. James Chatters, the owner of Applied Paleoscience, was called in to conduct skeletal forensics and recover much of the skeleton. In this article, Dr. Chatters addresses his observations at the Kennewick site.

News from the Confederated Umatilla Journal, Issues, News Releases

Links to press statements, position papers, and articles about the Kennewick Man are available at this site. Information about tribal gaming and salmon restoration are also provided.

Oregon Live: Kennewick Man

Oregon Live is a site affiliated with the newspapers The Oregonian and The Hillsboro Argus. One section of this site is devoted to articles on the Kennewick Man.

Scientists May Study Ancient Skeleton Court Says, Rejecting Appeals from Government and 5 Tribes (must be subscribed to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday, February 4, 2004 that scientists should be allowed to study the remains known as Kennewick Man. The ruling also stated that tribes seeking to use the Native American Graves and Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) must prove they are "directly affiliated" with the remains. Background information about the Kennewick Man, and additional details about the Ninth Circuit's ruling can be found in this February 6, 2004 article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tri-City Herald's Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center

This site is an online archive of the articles the Tri-City Herald has written about the Kennewick Man since its discovery in 1996. Photos of the Kennewick Man site are also provided.

One of the most comprehensive collections of news stories about the Kennewick Man issue can be found at the Tri-City Herald's site at

**For related information on Kennewick Man, see the Repatriation and NAGPRA section.**


Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman, and the Issue of Evolution
Did Margaret Mead favor an evolutionary approach, or was Derek Freeman correct in his argument that she was antievolutionary? Paul Shankman, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, compares and contrasts the positions and arguments by both Mead and Freeman in this article from the November-December 1998 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer.

The Mead-Freeman Controversy in Review
James E. Côté, a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario, examines the controversy that began in the 1980s with the publication of Derek Freeman's book Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth. In this 1983 book, Freeman argued that Mead's conclusions about Samoan adolescence and Samoan culture were wrong. This article was the lead entry in the October 2000 issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Other articles addressing the Mead-Freeman saga have also been published in the October 2000 issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and include the following:

The Mead-Freeman Debate
This page outlines the Mead-Freeman controversy, and provides links to Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa, as well as Freeman's attack on Mead's findings. Other information including the political climate during Mead's and Freeman's works are also discussed.


Anthropologist at German University Resigns Amid Allegations that He Falsified Data (must be subscribed to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
An investigation conducted by the University of Frankfurt (German) found that one of its anthropology professors "falsified data, plagiarized the work of his peers, and attempted to sell ape skulls belonging to the university." Reiner Protsch von Zieten's resignation went into effect at the beginning of February, weeks before the university's commission announced its findings. This February 25, 2005 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education examine the events that sparked the investigation, reaction from colleagues, and other actions that may be taken against Protsch von Zieten.

Leading Chinese Educator Accused of Plagiarism (free registration to the Nando Times is required to access)
The Nando Times published this article in January 17, 2002 about Wang Mingming, a professor at Peking University who was accused of plagiarizing a 1987 edition of Cultural Anthropology.

Other articles on the Dr. Wang plagiarism controversy include the following:

Plagiarism and Inappropriate Collaboration

Eugene Ogan, an emeritus professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, developed this section of the plagiarism site, "Plagiarism: Definitions, Diagnoses, Preventions, and Cures for Students and Faculty at the University of Minnesota." Links to strategies for avoiding and preventing plagiarism plus other helpful resources are also provided.

Repatriation and NAGPRA:

NAGPRA: Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act 1990
This site has outlined the Act by dividing it into 13 separate sections. Information on topics like illegal trafficking, inventory for human remains, penalties and changes in existing laws are included.

NAGPRA is Forever: Osteology and the Repatriation of Skeletons
This article examines the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and explores the possibility of forming a partnership between Native Americans and osteologists.

NAGPRA Legal Mandates Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq
The full text of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) can be found at this site.

Native Americans and the Practice of Archaeology
In the past, Native Americans have criticized the way archaeology has been conducted, and the NAGPRA of 1990 was drafted in response to that criticism. This article addresses the way both archaeologists and Native Americans have responded, changed and sometimes worked together as a result of this Act.

Repatriation and Reburial Information

Sources addressing issues related to the ethical treatment of the dead by archaeologists, physical anthropologist and museums can be found at this site. Case studies, ethics codes, state laws and more are also available.

Repatriation and Treatment of the Dead: World Archaeological Congress (WAC)
Links to codes of ethics as they relate to indigenous peoples, the Vermilion Accord on Human Rights, papers presented at WAC congresses & intecongresses plus other materials can be found at this World Archaeological Congress site.

Repatriation Issues
The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) has pulled together a collection of recent announcements pertaining to the issue of repatriation. A link to the SAA Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains is available at this site and can also be found at

**For related information on Repatriation and NAGPRA, see the Kennewick Man section.**

Yanomami Controversy:

Academic Scandal in the Internet Age
In the summer of 2000, Terence Turner and Leslie E. Sponsel, former leaders of the American Anthropological Association's (AAA) human-rights and ethics committees received proofs of Patrick Tierney's book, Darkness in El Dorado. Confident that this book would be highly controversial in the academe arena, the two sent out an e-mail "warning" to the AAA's top officers. Their e-mail notice sparked an online debate that was completely unexpected, and this January 12, 2001 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education describes how the Internet proved to be an ideal forum for this anthropological debate.

American Anthropologists Criticized for Keeping Yanomami Blood Samples (must be subscribed to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
Blood samples taken from the Yanomami people in 1968 are still being held in American labs, and many Yanomami want the samples returned to their communities. The fate of these samples and what this may mean for field ethics is discussed in this November 25, 2002 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Darkness in El Dorado
This Texas A & M site has numerous links articles and reports about the Yanomami controversy. It is often cited on other Web pages that discuss this issue.

Doug's Anthropological Niche Darkness in El Dorado Information
Doug Hume, a University of Connecticut graduate student in anthropology, developed this site. Information about the Yanomami issue is posted as it becomes available.

Napoleon Chagnon Responds to Darkness in El Dorado by Patrick Tierney

Napoleon Chagnon, an emeritus professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Barbara, and his colleagues have developed this site as a vehicle to respond to the allegations of misconduct that appear in Patrick Tierney's book, Darkness in El Dorado.

Scandal in the Amazon
Scott Wallace, a writer and TV producer, traveled into the Venezuela rainforests to explore the Yanomami controversy for his April 2002 article for Adventure entitled, "Napoleon in Exile." This Q & A interview with Wallace addresses some of the things found when he traveled to this area and met the people who are embroiled in this anthropological controversy.

Summary of the AAA's El Dorado Task Force Report
The organization, Public Anthropology, began an Ethics Initiative in response to the Yanomami controversy with the hope that the AAA Code of Ethics would be revised.

The Yanomami Crisis in Anthropology

Jeanne Curran and Susan Takata have developed an online teaching and review essay on the Yanomami crisis. Links, related links and "exam" questions are provided.

Yanomamö - Book States Anthropologist Caused Epidemic
Links to 15 different news articles that track the Yanomamö controversy are available at this site. Articles starting with the first pre-publication leaks of the book Darkness in El Dorado by Patrick Tierney through special sessions held at the American Anthropological Association meeting are included.

Other Ethical Issues in Anthropology:

The AAA and the CIA
The article "The AAA and CIA" appeared in the November 2000 issue of Anthropology News. It discusses the increasing evidence that American intelligence agencies, like the CIA, monitored and influenced American social sciences throughout the Cold War.

Ancient Art at Met Raises Old Ethical Questions
An exhibit currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum contains pieces with unknown pasts, and that is bringing concerns that surround stolen antiquities to the surface. In the "Art of the First Cities" show, the Naram-Sin piece is one of at least eight objects that has no clear record as to how it was acquired, and the debate regarding whether or not it is ethical to buy, show or publish scholarly articles on these "orphan objects" has moved into the pubic arena due to the events at the Iraq Museum. Points made by the collector, the scholars, and the curator are discussed in this article from the August 2, 2003 edition of The New York Times.

Anthropologists Apologize to Lumads
Datu Al Saliling of the Arumanen-Manobo in North Cotabato made a comment regarding the attitudes of researchers and how some of them look down on the Lumads as "uneducated." In response to those comments, Professor Leonardo Estracio, President of UGAT, the Anthropology Association of the Philippines, made a formal admission of guilt and a public apology to the Lumads at the UGAT 24th National Conference in April 2002.

Anthropologists as Spies
"Anthropologists as Spies" discusses the allegations stated in a letter written by Frank Boas and published in The Nation in 1919. Boas' letter accuses 4 unnamed American anthropologists of conducting espionage in Central American during World War I.

Anthropology in the News

This very popular site has links to anthropology articles that appear in the news. General anthropological news items, as well as articles addressing controversial topics are provided.

Apes Nest Controversy
"Apes Nest Controversy" is a reply to the rather "sensational" report, "Did the First Hominids Build Nests?" by Jordi Sabater Pi et al that appeared in a 1997 issue of Current Anthropology.

Archaeologist Faked Important Discovery
Shinichi Fujimura, deputy director of the private Tohoku Paleolithic Cultural Research Institute, admitted to planting primitive stone tools at a dig so he could get credit for discovering the oldest tools in Japan. This article posted in the November 7, 2000 issue of ScienceNOW details how this case of misconduct was uncovered and what it means to others involved in the dig.

Archaeologists and the Looting Trade
Issues surrounding a Maya collection at the museum of Fine Arts in Boston are discussed in this article that appeared in the May 1998 issue of Lingua Franca. The Boston Globe deemed it to be a "questionable collection."

**The online version of Lingua Franca has been suspended. This publication has been purchased by The Chronicle of Higher Education.**

Archaeology Magazine
This online publication is a great resource to search for articles dealing with ethics in the field of archaeology.

Cannibalism Controversy
Some members of the Hopi Indians in Arizona are convinced that their ancestors, the Anasazi, were not cannibals as some researchers believe. This article presents a new theory offered by some Hopi Indians.

Cave Looter Allegedly Solicits Murder
In 1980, Jack Lee Harelson, a former insurance agent, first began illegally excavating Elephant Mountain Cave, located in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Harelson and his wife uncovered numerous artifacts and remains on this site owned by the government. Even after a conviction in 1996 for corpse abuse and possession of stolen property, Harelson continued his illegal activities. This article from the January 27, 2003 issue of Archaeology, describes Harelson’s latest infraction and discusses other “mysteries” that may be solved due to his arrest.

Conflicting Concerns and Ideas About Northern Research
Amanda Graham and her colleague, Professor Jim McDonald, volunteered to revise the Association of Canadian University for Northern Studies' Ethical Principles for the Conduct of Research in the North. This page lists the ethical concerns and issues that surfaced during this revision process.

Crisis at the Smithsonian
Jasmin Chua, a graduate student in NYU's science and environmental reporting program, discusses some of the controversies surrounding the Smithsonian's Secretary, Lawrence Small, in this article from the September 19, 2002 issue of Archaeology. Small has been accused of transgressions ranging from selling the Smithsonian name to the highest bidder to closing certain research facilities. Other investigations about some of Small's personal collections have also been under investigation. A timeline of events and character sketches of some of the key players involved in this issue are also included.

Crossing the Line (must be subscribed to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
Is it acceptable for an anthropologist studying heroin use to use Federal grant funds to purchase and use the illegal drug in order to understand his subjects? This article that appeared in the October 25, 2002 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education examines what happened when Ansley Hamid, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (NY) was accused of misusing funds and drugs.

Debates in Anthropology
Links to different issues being discussed in the field of anthropology, like the Kennewick Man and the Darkness in El Dorado, can be found at this site.

Ethical Perspectives in Anthropology: The Advantage of Competing Viewpoints
Laura Moran, Ithaca College, examines in this paper, published in 2002, ethical dilemmas faced by anthropologists conducting research in the field. Moran provides a historical overview of ethical concerns that have surfaced over the years for anthropologists and addresses the role ethics played in four landmark cases. She also explores three ethical perspectives: cultural relativism; scientific objectivity; and human rights activism and discusses ways those perspectives can be integrated into the profession.

Ethics in Archaeology: An American Perspective
This article by Martha Sharp Joukowsky and published in a 1991 issue of Berytus, examines the challenges facing American archaeologists.

Ethics in Archaeology, Can You Dig It?
Ethical concerns are gaining importance in the field of archaeology. This article from the March 28, 2002 issue of The Economist discusses ethical concerns such as how to treat remains, who owns the artifacts and how the site should be preserved.

Going Head-to-Head Over Boas's Data
Frank Boas, the father of American anthropology, studied cranial measurements of European immigrants and their offspring in the early 1900s to determine trends in cranial shapes. Researchers, like Clarence C. Gravalee from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) believe Boas got it right, while others, like Corey Sparks, Penn State University (University Park) disagree. This article from the November 1, 2002 issue of Science Magazine discusses the ongoing debate about the roles of genetics, environment and race.

How Anthropology Should Respond to an Ethical Crisis
This opinion piece that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that anthropological crises, such as the dealing with the Yanomami, should be seen as an opportunity to foster discussions about ethics in anthropology.

Human Genome Diversity Project
This international project consists of anthropologists, geneticists, doctors, linguists and others. It is still in the planning stages, but the goal is to document the "genetic variation of the human species." A FAQ section is provided at

Israel: Icon Under Fire (must be subscribed to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
Nachman Ben-Yehuda, a sociologist and dean of the faculty of social sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has written a controversial new book entitled Sacrificing Truth: Archaeology and the Myth of Masada. In the 1960s, Israel's most celebrated archaeologist, the late Yigael Yadin, conducted the "most massive" archaeological excavation ever attempted in Israel. Ben-Yehuda's book accuses Yadin of misconduct in researching Masada, but not everyone agrees. This December 6, 2002 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education provides some historical background on Masada and discusses the controversy behind the research on the second most visited site in Israel.

Additional information about Masada can be found at the following sites:

Israeli Academic and 4 Others are Accused of Forging Inscriptions on Antiquities (must be subscribed to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
Five members of an alleged antiquities forgery ring were indicted last week. A few years ago, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a committee to investigate several objects that were reported to date back to the Israelite period, and the recent indictments stemmed from this investigation. The effect this "exposure" on areas of historical and archaeological research, and additional information about this case can be found in the January 4, 2005 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Looting and Theft of Cultural Property
Karen D. Vitelli, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University who has also served as chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society for American Archaeology, addresses the efforts of archaeologists to prevent or at least reduce the instances of looting. Her discussion of these efforts range from strongly encouraging collectors not to purchase stolen pieces to changing the way archaeology is taught in academic institutions. In this Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter from the Spring of 2000, Vitelli also points out the negative and positive ramifications of these efforts and whether or not these approaches to preserving cultural heritage are effective.

Paluxy Dinosaur-Man Track Controversy
Claims were made of "giant man tracks" occurring along side of dinosaur tracks in limestone river beds near Glen Rose, Texas. This site has a collection of articles about the history and controversy surrounding this claim, as well as evidence about other out-of-order fossil and artifact findings.

Penn Anthropologist Fights Subpoenas for Field Notes Regarding Artificial Heart Surgery She Observed (must be subscribed to The Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
Sheldon Zink, director of the program for transplant policy and ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics is fighting a lawsuit that may force her to turn over her field notes. Zink observed the transplant operations of the AbioCor heart on a 51 year old patient, and she says she would rather go to jail than turn over her notes. Details of the lawsuit and Zink's role in it are discussed in this article from the March 5, 2003 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

An update on the Zink case can be found in this May 16, 2003 Chronicle of Higher Education article entitled, "When Should a Scholar's Notes Be Confidential?". It can be found at

Saga of the Persian Princess

At one point in time, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan's Taliban regime were all trying to claim a 2600 year old mummified Persian Princess. The problem discussed in this article from the January/February 2001 issue of Archaeology is that this princess has been shown to be a fraud.

Shaming of the Anthropologist: Ethical Dilemmas During and in the Aftermath of the Fieldwork Process
Rachel Burr, an instructor at the Open University who has a PhD in the anthropology of childhood, presents her Vietnam research experiences in this Anthropology Matters article. The children Burr studied were ones who were at risk of contracting the AIDS virus, and who tested positive for HIV after the fieldwork was completed. Burr examines ethical situations anthropologists face in the field and discusses how involved researchers should be in lives of the people the study and observe.

Spies Like Us: When Sociologists Deceive their Subjects
This article that appeared in the November 1997 issue of Lingua Franca examines what happened when University of South Florida sociologist, Carolyn Ellis, became a traitor in the eyes of the Guinea families she researched.

**The online version of Lingua Franca has been suspended. This publication has been purchased by The Chronicle of Higher Education.**

Thomas N. Headland Controversies
Links to various anthropological controversies, like the hunter-gatherer revisionist debate, can be found at this site.

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Other Anthropology Ethics Materials

Alaska Anthropological Association, Alaska Anthropology Links

The Alaska Anthropological Association has developed a site with links to sources about anthropology in Alaska.

Anthropology Ethics & Fieldwork
Adelaide University Library (Australia) has put together a collection of print and online resources on ethical issues for anthropologists and fieldwork & research techniques.

Anthropology, Genetic Diversity, and Ethics

A workshop entitled "Anthropology, Genetic Diversity, and Ethics" was held in 1999 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This particular site is just one of the many talks given at that conference.

Binghamton Univ. Libraries Anthropology Ethics & Responsibility
The Binghamton University Library (New York) has an "Ethics & Responsibility" site with numerous links to professional ethics, academic responsibility, social responsibility & public policy and related online publications.

Ethics and the Archaeologist
K. Kris Hirst, a project archaeologist at Louis Berger Associates, Inc., has selected a diverse collection of archaeology resources for her "Ethics and the Archaeologist" site. Materials on ethics, preservation, controversies and more are available.

Ethics in Anthropology: Public Presentation of Anthropological Material
A Senior Seminar class at the University of Minnesota-Duluth set out to "examine the ethical issues involved in the presentation of anthropological material to the public, and to consider the role of public activism by anthropologists." These students examined codes of ethics from various anthropology associations & organizations, reviewed the literature on this topic, and interviewed anthropologists. This document is a culmination of their findings.

European Archaeological Heritage Convention
This document outlines the principles agreed to by the member States of the Council of Europe and the other States of the European Cultural Convention.

Legal Background of Archeological Resources Protection
Despite numerous laws passed by various agencies, looting continues to be a problem. This online document outlines the current civil and criminal actions that have been taken since the passage of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), potential areas of application for ARPA, other archaeological resource protection rules and regulations and case patterns.

Overview of Conservation in Archaeology; Basic Conservation Procedures
This overview was one segment of the conservation materials initially posted in the spring semester of 1998 for use by students enrolled in the Texas A & M class, “Conservation of Cultural Resources.” Issues addressed include conservation ethics as well as basic procedures, storage of materials and other treatment recommendations.

Training Students in Archaeological Ethics
In the past, most archaeology students worked in university departments and learned the skills that would be important to their future as a professor. Ethics was often learned informally, often from their peers. Today, those in archaeology have other types of employment options, and are sometimes employed outside the university setting. This paper by Mark Lynott and Vincas P. Steponatis was prepared for the SAA workshop on "Enhancing Undergraduate and Graduate Education and Training in Public Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management" in February 1998. It addresses the ethical gray areas that exist in archaeology and argues for the development & implementation of formal ethics training programs.

Useful Anthropology Resources: Methods & Ethics

Russell Rhoads, a sociocultural anthropologist at Grand Valley State University (Michigan), has compiled a list of links in areas, such as Medical Anthropology, Archaeology, and Indigenous Peoples. A section on Methods/Ethics is also included.

WWW Virtual Library Anthropology General Ethics

The WWW Virtual Library has an Anthropology section that includes links to ethics materials.

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Additional ethics resources can be found at the following sites.

Art Ethics

Bioethics. See also the Biotechnology Web Page (UIUC)

Business Ethics

Ethics Case Studies

History Ethics

Journalism Ethics


Research Ethics

Social Science Ethics: A Bibliography

Sociology Ethics

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*This site is an adaptation of Web pages I created for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Created by Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA
©September 30, 2002
Updated February 26, 2005