Tag Archives: contract archaeology

Guidelines of ethics & archaeology

Currently I’m in group assembled by the union DIK (the union for archaeologist, librarians, archivists etc.) discussing ethical guidelines for Archaeology inSweden. We’re only just started so we’re trying to get feel for the subject and finding the framework, through our own experience and through works by other organizations such as AAA, EAA and the Swedish Archaeological Society(Svenska arkeologiska samfundet) among others.

While going through these guidelines and codes I found that they do have lots of substance and important statements, though when we disscused this we felt that we like to do this in a somewhat other fashion –  not just copy and paste but actually saying something of our own. It’s also possible that we have a somewhat different starting point and somewhat other aims as these are guidelines rather than codes, but as I say we’re just starting up – so we might change our perspectives several times. One thing that came up is the importance of setting humanity in the centre of the discussion.

Ethics is a big word, it covers a lot of grounds, and we must in some way concentrate the subject, focus it on certain areas and to make it workable and presentable. We’ve been looking into grouping this into certain fields or headlines, for example;

  • Re-search and studies,
  • contract-archaeology (both from the filed point of view and from the departmental view),
  • the public
  • and economics.

As contract-archaeology is getting more and more a business as many others, it still differs tom most as the main goal for most archaeologist isn’t to make a monetary profit but rather a scientific profit (not said that archaeological business, museums, institutions etc isn’t or shouldn’t be looking out for the future by making sure they make enough money). Though this has been a reality for some time, there are several ethical issues connected to this, for all parts involved.

Other issues concerns practices, sharing of knowledge, contacts with the public etc and politics.

In the latter part is a big issue that needs to be addressed, how do we avoid to be used as a political tool of groups, parties or associations – or should we avoid it? Archaeology or rather the cultural environment is part of the political landscape and should so be, but when groups try to control a certain remain or type of remains, ideas or interpretations it begins to be difficult. In most cases this does not go to the extreme, but then again sometime it does – Historian, archaeologist and author Magnus Alkarp and his family was recently threatened by neo-nazis due to Alkarps new play 4 dagar i april (4 days in April). The story is based on a true story about the riots that shookUppsala 1943 when nazis gathered atUppsala mounds (burial mounds from the Iron Age) for a demonstration. I haven’t seen the play, yet, but has great admiration for Magnus Alkarps work, courage and engagement – Keep up the good work!

These threats shows how important it is, and often difficult, to deal with groups that have other interests in archaeology and prehistory than the scientific ones. I feel it is important that we as an archaeological community works actively with question concerning how our results are being used or misused and that we are active and supportive towards each other in this.

With this said as a sketchy background we’re looking for current articles or posting on the matter, international and or national on ethics, big scale or small, to use as reference points or inspiration.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

En svensk uppdragsarkeologisk klassiker/A Swedish contract archaeological classic

This post will follow in English.

Som arkeolog är man tvungen att flytta runt, att jobba som projektanställda och att hela tiden planera framåt. Vad händer efter nästa jobb, projekt eller kurs?

Nu är inte allt negativt med detta, man får möjlighet att se mycket av vårt vackra land, uppleva olika kulturmiljöer och träffa mängder med fantastiska människor.

En sak som ofta kommer upp var och eller för vem man jobbat och i samband med detta började vi diskutera vem som gjort en svensk uppdragsarkeologisk klassiker. Dvs jobbat på Riksantikvarieämbetets arkeologiska uppdrags verksamhet (UV), ett länsmuseum , ett privat företag och för en stiftelse. För att göra det ytterligare mer exklusivt jobbat i minst ett län i södra, mellersta respektive norra Sverige samt arbetat antingen som inventetare eller annan special funktion, på en länsstyrelse eller som handläggare på riksantikvarieämbetet. Jag har inte nått upp till detta… än. Jag saknar en stiftelse och UV i min portfölj – hur är det med dig?

Har du genomfört en svensk uppdragsarkeologisk klassiker eller känner någon som gjort det, eller tycker du att något saknas som bör ingå i en klassiker? Lämna en kommentar!

Obs detta är skrivet på min HTC så jag ber om ursäkt för eventuella stavfel!

Magnus Reuterdahl

As an archaeologist you have to move around a lot, to work in projekt and konstanta plan ahead. What will happen next after this job, projekt or course.

Now there are positive sides to this drifter kind of life such as the possibily to see and experience our respective countries and perhaps more, to see and study different cultural historic areas and to meet loads of interesting people.

One thing that is often discussed are where, with and for whom we worked. At one time some of us came up with the notion of a Swedish contract archaeological classic, I guess this might be translateble to most countries. In Sweden this might be someone who had worked for the National Heritage Board’s contract department (UV), a county museum, a private company and a foundation. To make it more exclusive you should also have worked in at least one county in the south, middle and north of Sweden and have worked on a survey or other special function, at a county board or as an officer at the national Heritage Board.

I haven’t made a classic… yet! For me an employment at UV and a foundation is still missing.

If you have done this, or a similar classic in your country, or have thoughts on if something is missing – please leave a comment.

This is written on my HTC phone, so please excuse any misspellings.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Congratulation winners of SAU’s science award 2008

I would like to congratulate Sven Isaksson, archaeologist at the Archaeological research laboratory (AFL) Stockholm University, to SAU science award 2008 (In Swedish). Sven Isaksson is a bimolecular archaeologist who specialising in organic residues, for example lipid analysis on prehistoric ceramics. Sven is great teacher, scientist and fore most someone I call friend and it is always good see that good things comes to those who are good.

He wasn’t the only winner he shared the price with Uppsala scientist Anne Ingvarsson-Sundström, I don’t know her personally, though I believe I’ve met her on occasion, but I’ve read some articles and know of her as she do osteology (as well as archaeology). Congratulation it is good to see that bones are appreciated.

SAU or Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis (in Swedish) is Uppsala based foundation that does contract as well as research based archaeology.

Read more about Sven and his work in this presentation/article (in English).


Magnus Reuterdahl


A slow week?

It feels like this has been a slow week, though it has been filled with a lot of work, but mostly slow work. As my employment here in Växjö is rushing towards the end there are a lot of loose knots to tie, small projects to finish and small reports to make.  

Next week it will be more be more of an action week, as I need to visit some ancient monuments. Some I need to photo for a small project and some we need to visit to gain more information before we make any decisions concerning them or the area around them. So next week I’ll have a few archaeo-pictures for you.  

The most interesting subject this week was a presentation made by the National Heritage board concerning the new handbook on contract-archaeology. Lots of good stuff and intensions in there, though it means a higher burden of job on both the county administrative board and the contract-archaeologists. Anyhow it was an interesting and giving day. 

Magnus Reuterdahl

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