The following text was approved by the members of the Association at the Annual Business Meeting, held in Ravenna (Italy) on 27 September 1997, and amended at the Annual Business Meeting in Riva del Garda (Italy) on 19 September 2009.



The archaeological heritage, as defined in Article 1 of the 1992 European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, is the heritage of all humankind. Archaeology is the study and interpretation of that heritage for the benefit of society as a whole. Archaeologists are the interpreters and stewards of that heritage on behalf of their fellow men and women. The object of this Code is to establish standards of conduct for the members of the European Association of Archaeologists to follow in fulfilling their responsibilities, both to the community and to their professional colleagues.


Members of the Association must adhere to high standards of ethical and professional conduct in their work, and must refrain from conduct which could bring the archaeological profession into disrepute.

Archaeologists and society   

  1. All archaeological work should be carried out in the spirit of the Charter for the management of the archaeological heritage approved by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) in 1990.
  2. It is the duty of every archaeologist to ensure the preservation of the archaeological heritage by every legal means.
  3. In achieving that end archaeologists will take active steps to inform the general public at all levels of the objectives and methods of archaeology in general and of individual projects in particular, using all the communication techniques at their disposal.
  4. Where preservation is impossible, archaeologists will ensure that investigations are carried out to the highest professional standards.
  5. In carrying out such projects, archaeologists will wherever possible, and in accordance with any contractual obligations that they may have entered into, carry out prior evaluations of the ecological and social implications of their work for local communities.
  6. Archaeologists 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 on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property.
  7. Archaeologists will not engage in, or allow their names to be associated with, any activity that impacts the archaeological heritage which is carried out for commercial profit which derives directly from or exploits the archaeological heritage itself.
  8. It is the responsibility of archaeologists to draw the attention of the competent authorities to threats to the archaeological heritage, including the plundering of sites and monuments and illicit trade in antiquities, and to use all the means at their disposal to ensure that action is taken in such cases by the competent authorities.

Archaeologists and the Profession

  1. Archaeologists will carry out their work to the highest standards recognised by their professional peers.
  2. Archaeologists have a duty to keep themselves informed of developments in knowledge and methodology relating to their field of specialisation and to techniques of fieldwork, conservation, information dissemination, and related areas.
  3. Archaeologists should not undertake projects for which they are not adequately trained or prepared.
  4. A research design should be formulated as an essential prelude to all projects. Arrangements should also be made before starting projects for the subsequent storage and curation of finds, samples, and records in accessible public repositories (museums, archive collections, etc).
  5. Proper records, prepared in a comprehensible and durable form, should be made of all archaeological projects.
  6. Adequate reports on all projects should be prepared and made accessible to the archaeological community as a whole with the minimum delay through appropriate conventional and/or electronic publishing media, following an initial period of confidentiality not exceeding six calendar months.
  7. Archaeologists will have prior rights of publication in respect of projects for which they are responsible for a reasonable period, not exceeding ten years. During this period they will make their results as widely accessible as possible and will give sympathetic consideration to requests for information from colleagues and students, provided that these do not conflict with the primary right of publication. When the ten-year period has expired, the records should be freely available for analysis and publication by others.
  8. Written permission must be obtained for the use of original material and acknowledgement to the source included in any publication.
  9. In recruiting staff for projects, archaeologists shall not practise any form of discrimination based on sex, religion, age, race, disability, or sexual orientation.
  10. The management of all projects must respect national standards relating to conditions of employment and safety.


Questions of professional ethics and professional conduct may be raised by contacting the Secretariat, which will put the matter to the Board if necessary. The Board may convene a group, composed of past EAA presidents, to advise on particular issues which may arise.



The following text was approved by the members of the Association at the Annual Business Meeting, held in Goteborg (Sweden) on 26 September 1998.

The membership of the EAA voted to approve and adopt a set of Principles of Conduct for archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work. These had been prepared by the EAA's Working Party on Commercial Archaeology, were aired at the Ravenna meeting in 1997, and were published in draft in The European Archaeologist 8 (Winter 1997). The draft principles werefurther discussed at a well attended and lively round table held at the Göteborg meeting.

The text that was approved by the membership is reproduced below. The Principles of Conduct help to define the standards ofconduct expected of professional archaeologists in Europe.

Two important changes were made as a result of the discussions at Göteborg. First, the earlier phrase "commercialarchaeological work" was replaced with "contract archaeological work." This reflects the view that archaeology is not, in the end,a commercial activity (eventhough it is often carried out under contracts, of various kinds). Secondly, a new principle (No 14) was added. This reflects the importance of promoting both the principles and the means to make them work in practice. The need for adequate regulation of contract archaeology (normally by state or municipal authorities, but with professional associations also having a crucial role to play) is especially important.

Note: many of these principles apply equally to all kinds of archaeological work, but this code deals especially with issues arising from a contract system of funding.

1. Archaeologists should ensure that they understand, and operate within, the legal framework within which the regulation of archaeological work takes place in that country.

2. Archaeologists should ensure that they give the best possible advice to developers and planners, and should not advise on matters beyond their knowledge or competence.

3. Archaeologists should ensure that they understand the structure of archaeological roles and responsibilities, the relationships between these roles, and their place in this structure.

4. Archaeologists should avoid conflicts of interest between the role of giving advice in a regulatory capacity and undertaking (or offering to undertake) work in a contract capacity.

5. Archaeologists should not offer to undertake contract work for which they or their organizations are not suitably equipped, staffed or experienced.

6. Archaeologists should maintain adequate project control systems (academic, financial, quality, time) in relation to the work which they are undertaking.

7. Archaeologists should adhere to recognized professional standards for archaeological work.

8. Archaeologists should adhere both to the relevant law and to ethical standards in the area of competition between archaeological organizations.

9. Archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work should ensure that the results of such work are properly completed and made publicly available.

10. Archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work should ensure that archaeological information is not suppressed unreasonably or indefinitely (by developers or by archaeological organizations) for commercial reasons.

11. Archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work should be conscious of the need to maintain the academic coherence of archaeology, in the face of a tendency towards fragmentation under a contract system of organization.

12. Archaeologists involved in managing contract archaeological work should be conscious of their responsibilities towards the pay, conditions of employment and training, and career development opportunities of archaeologists, in relation to the effects of competition between archaeological organizations on these aspects of life.

13. Archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work should recognize the need to demonstrate, to developers and to the public at large, the benefits of support for archaeological work.

14. Where contract archaeology exists, all archaeologists (especially in positions of influence) should promote the application of this code, and promote development of the means to make it work effectively, especially adequate systems of regulation.



Practical training should only be undertaken by those competent to provide the particular training offered (e.g. field survey, excavation, geophysics, laboratory expertise). Where possible they should have recognised professional documentation of their competence.

Documentation provided to participants and potential participants should state clearly:

  1. Who are the competent people running the project and their professional and training qualifications.
  2. What specific training will be on offer (e.g. field walking, excavation, finds processing, drawing, etc.), and to what level (where this can be defined, e.g. under the Institute of Archaeologists proposed levels of competence).
  3. The date of the site and its nature.
  4. Which categories of student or volunteer are being catered for.  This can vary from people for whom the project is a working holiday with an educational aim, school children wondering whether to study archaeology at university, students fulfilling requirements for the courses, or young professionals seeking professional training.  All these groups have very different needs.
  5. What kinds of students or volunteer are being catered for (e.g. the level of previous experience, those with disabilities, age restrictions, etc.).
  6. The way in which teaching will be carried out, preferably with a defined programme (e.g. lectures, on-site training, site documentation, mentoring by competent workers, etc.).
  7. Ratios of competent staff to students.
  8. A statement of the methods to be used, where possible with specific reference to manuals and text books.
  9. A guide on the length of the course.
  10. Clear advice on living conditions, personal insurance, hazards, equipment to be provided, etc.
The project must be fully insured for accidents, professional indemnity, etc.  It should maintain legal standards of Health and Safety, e.g. in working conditions, protective clothing, first aid training, provision of first aid kits.  Every member of the team should know what to do in an emergency, e.g. telephone numbers of medical services, where to find the local doctor or hospital.

Field projects should conform to the legal requirements of the country in which they are carried out (e.g. for permits, legal access to land, deposition of finds and archives, publication, etc.). This will also normally involve carrying out an official ‘Risk Assessment’.

There should be concern for the local social and political environment in which work is being carried out (e.g. students should not be seen to have privileged access to historical sites from which local people are excluded).  It is the responsibility of the participant to enquire what are the working languages for the course, and ensure that they have sufficient command to participate fully.

Given the limited nature of the archaeological resource, due concern should be given to its preservation, and it should not be destroyed merely to provide training.  Preferably sites which are threatened or where there are pressing research interests should be chosen rather than unthreatened sites.

Sites should be chosen which are suitable for the level of training being given, e.g. beginners should not start on complex and difficult deeply stratified sites.

Students should not be exploited.  Training excavations should not be used merely as a way of financing research;  equally they should not be used as a means of undermining professional activities, e.g. by offering cut-price rescue excavations where these should be properly funded under state and European planning legislation.

Any certificates given out should be endorsed by a recognised institution, e.g. a university, museum, professional body, etc.

Participants should be asked for feedback on their experiences, and proper consideration be taken of complaints and suggestions.  Where possible these should be passed on to the relevant institution overseeing the standards.

Any participants should be informed where they can make formal complaints if they are dissatisfied with their training and treatment (e.g. the professional institute, university, etc.).