2022 Statement on Nurturing the Cycle of Good Archaeological Practice

This Statement was officially approved and adopted at the Annual Membership Businesses Meeting held per rollam on 12 - 15 September 2022. To be quoted as "EAA 2022 Statement on Nurturing the Cycle of Good Archaeological Practice". The draft of this statement was prepared by an EAA Task Force composed of Sally Foster, Carenza Lewis, Maria Mina and Maria Taloni.

Stable URL: https://www.e-a-a.org/2022Statement

download document in pdf (English version)


At its 2022 Annual Meeting in Budapest, the EAA is launching its updated Code and Principles as well as four new Advisory Committees: Scientific; Heritage; Public Benefits; and Education, Training and Professional Development. In joining our EAA community, Individual and Corporate Members, who work in extremely diverse and interdisciplinary ways across many national contexts, agree to adhere to our Codes. Our Code and Principles seek to inspire and nurture good practice while promoting the greater integration of archaeological practice with society and its needs. The expansion of the former Code (1997, revised 2009) is therefore a barometer of topical challenges, opportunities and wider social developments that affect archaeologists across many sectors, and clearly demonstrates the Association’s readiness to react accordingly. These sectors include higher education and research, heritage management, museums and archives, and commercial contract archaeology.


The new Advisory Committees, along with the revived and reshaped statutory Appeals and Anti-Harassment Committee, are responsible for a range of tasks, some of which correspond closely to the new areas encompassed by the revised Code. These Committees are therefore where many of these topics will be addressed by the EAA as we move forward.


This statement acknowledges the ethical and societal issues identified in the Code and Principles and, in a cross-cutting exercise, maps their relationship to these Advisory Committees. It does so through the lens of the heritage cycle (Figure 1). This is a cycle in which an understanding of value, iteratively fed and shaped by knowledge and understanding, can be used to inform decisions about what to secure for the future, and how such resources can be engaged for wider public benefit, generating a desire to know more about the resource in question. This is an approach applied in the Medieval Europe Research Committee Manifesto:  https://mercmanifesto.org/ (MERC is an EAA Community).

Figure 1 Heritage cycle. Graphic by Chris Unwin

The heritage cycle underpins much of Western heritage management practice and therefore provides a useful framework for thinking about how we practice in such a way that we are aware not just of the scientific benefits of our work but also the differences it makes, or could make, for society. It also enables us to articulate what we are doing in ways that might explicitly embrace understanding social value or public benefits (EAA Strategic Plan 2021-2024 Goal 3). The Advisory Committee remits ‘map’ to this model as will be evident from what follows, which also introduces key themes emerging from the Code and Principles that relate to wider society. Ongoing reflection about how we practise will help us to achieve the cycle of optimum scientific, social and cultural benefits, including contributing to the wellbeing of present and future people and places.


Scientific Committee: how we advance knowledge and understanding of the past, in ways that:

       practise respect for human remains

       avoid racist or discriminatory methods/approaches and interpretations

       are aware of the concerns and interests of indigenous communities and acknowledge diversity in interpretation of the past and what it tells us

       recognise that knowledge of archaeological context is critical to understanding artefacts, their meaning and significance.


Heritage Committee: how we assign meanings and values (including social value) to that knowledge and put this into practice to secure heritage for the future, in ways that:

     respect individual human rights, past and present and recognise the multiplicity and diversity of stakeholders, ensuring respect for stakeholder perspectives, including for contested objects and by understanding who ‘owns’ objects.

     are accountable, transparent and ensure ethical practice in terms of expert evaluation, including where there is the risk of conflicts of interest

     engage constructively with debates about difficult issues, including repatriation of objects and restitution

      can inform future and current evidence-based policy, for example in relation to climate change.


Public Benefits Committee: how we enable more people and places to benefit from archaeology, informed by understanding of its significance, impact and potential, and of how this drives the desire to know more, including through scientific research, in ways that:

     respectfully, helpfully and constructively share and exchange archaeological knowledge and opportunities with wider publics through appropriately diverse activities, developed collaboratively where possible, and recognising the interests of people and places

    advance knowledge and understanding of the range of ways in which archaeology benefits people and places, and the processes and mechanisms which underpin this, including through interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and practice

    share data, information and insights demonstrating the benefits of archaeology, responsibly and respectfully, so the value of archaeology can be recognised.

    are alert and open to new opportunities to achieve, capture and understand public benefit.


Education, Training and Professional Development Committee: how we train and support professional development of archaeologists at all stages of their career to do the above (so, applies across the whole heritage cycle), in ways that:

       ensure access to equal opportunities to learn, train, upskill, diversify and network are equitably available to all regardless of career stage, identity or other factors

       fairly acknowledge the contribution of colleagues regardless of their employment status

      ensure training remains at the cutting edge as new approaches, technologies, ideas and opportunities emerge

     support and deliver outcomes that help make the case for archaeology in the higher education, school and youth participation sectors.


Appeal and Anti-Harassment Committee: how in all the above we ensure a safe work environment, equality and inclusion in creating knowledge and understanding, in ways that:

       prohibit all forms of harassment, assault, bullying, intimidation and discrimination

       develop and implement adequate mechanisms to prevent and report any discrimination, harassment, assault, bullying and intimidation for EAA events, not least the Annual Meetings

       encourage the reporting of proven discrimination, harassment, assault, bullying and intimidation that victims suffer to their home institution or organisation

       are alert and responsive to new and emerging threats to the wellbeing of all working or volunteering in archaeology.