W7 Reflection Post

In this week’s lecture, we were introduced to 7 principles concerning the ethics that archaeologists must follow. The men in the National Geographic show “Diggers” followed approximately 0 out of the 7. The purpose of these men travelling around and digging is so much to entertain themselves and whoever enjoys watching the show, and nothing about it was meant for scholarship or adding to the archaeological record. Because the nature of their endeavors were so counter-intuitive, I don’t even think it should be called archaeology.

Throughout the episode “Bleeding Kansas”, the diggers constantly mused about the worth of the artifacts they found. Within the first minute, one of them said “just think how much this thing would be worth!” There was a little side bar that would pop up with their guessed potential value for the objects. There are two very major things wrong with this: first, they are violating the third principle concerning ethics, which says that commercialization of archaeological material is unethical. They are ruining the context of these artifacts by attempting to put a price on them. Secondly, the diggers did a lot of guessing: guessing the value of the artifacts, and even guessing the ages of the artifacts with no apparent education about dating whatsoever. One of them is even quoted saying ” this is super old, probably back in the stage coach days!” I’m sorry, but how old exactly is super old??

Another huge issue that set off the diggers from true archaeologists is how aimlessly they wandered around these sites. They just carried around metal detectors and dug into the ground as soon as they heard the beeping. There was no attempt to preserve the ground, they didn’t dig carefully so as not to damage the items they found. They also made no attempt to record where the artifacts were found, and no attempt to preserve the artifacts. I’m pretty sure they just shoved bullets and coins in their pockets. During a real excavation, archaeologists take great care to record where artifacts are found, it’s often possible to actually map out the site based on how the artifacts are spread out over the site. An ethical principle of archaeology is stewardship, which means that archaeologists recognize that the archaeological record is irreplaceable, and excavations re the only chance we have to get information from the past in this way. Therefore, it’s the archaeologists’ responsibilities to work on long term preservation of both the site and the artifacts. This principle is closely related to the sixth principle about records and preservation, which states that archaeologists should work actively for preservation of and long term access to archaeological collections, records, and reports. Needless to say, the diggers had no recognition of any of these ethics, and they were more looters or antiquarians than ethical archaeologists.

I think that the blatant transgression on the ethical code that the Diggers have made can be chalked up to inadequate education and training in archaeology. This is another principle of ethics, the last one mentioned in our lecture, and it states that archaeologists who are excavating must be qualified and given adequate training. Most archaeological investigations are already of a destructive nature despite careful procedures taken to preserve sites and artifacts, so any amateur who goes out looking for little treasures is doing immeasurable damage to the artifacts, the site, and the archaeological record itself.

6 thoughts on “W7 Reflection Post

  1. The “archaeologists” in the show are definitely not following any of the points in the archaeological code of ethics. I found the most blatant form of this disregard for their practice during the very introduction of the film. The one man brags about how much he believes an artifact could be worth. Archaeologists are never supposed to participate in the commercialization of artifacts in any fashion. They continue to commercialize their findings throughout the entire episode. The men are also consistency jumping to elaborate conclusions about the history of the artifacts. That is a poor representation of real archaeologists, who base conclusions on facts and not assumptions.
    Thanks!

  2. I love how you begin your post with “the men in this show followed approximately 0 of the 7 ethical rules”. This is so true and had me laughing out loud because these men showed no concern for any ethical principles of archaeology and many of the violations you bring up here I had noticed as well. I think it’s ridiculous that they make no attempt to use any dating technique when approximating the ages of these artifacts and just assumes that they are “super old”. And the fact that they advertise a potential monetary value on the screen really exemplify the typical looters today. I think you did a great job explaining their ethical violations and tying these to the ethical rules described in the lecture.

  3. I completely agree with you about the fact that there was no ethical process in this tv show. The men had no actual interest in archaeology and all they seemed to be interested in was a way to gain a quick buck. They looked at only monetary value throughout the entire episode talking about how the bullet they can find would be worth a fortune. There was also constant possible prices on the screen for their findings. Before this course, I would have just assumed that this is what archaeologists do. Now I know this is not the case and archaeologists are not concerned with money the whole time.

  4. First off, I just want to say that your opening paragraph made me laugh out loud a couple times. Your criticism was really funny in my opinion. But I really agree with all the points you made in your reflection. Those guys were really out there for the wrong reasons, and I also think that they were not too read up on their historical information. Also, the metal detector and immediate digging bugged me as well. I know how careful real archaeologists are when they excavate, but these guys seemed kind of careless to me. I thought there was a huge possibility of them ruining whatever they were trying to find because of how aggressively they were digging.

  5. I like how you noticed that these so called archaeologists followed approximately 0 out of the 7 ethical rules. No doubt it must be a great TV show and a lot of people might be watching it, but this show is far from archaeology. The way monetized each item was just unethical. It is against the rules of archaeology. Also, they guessed the age of many items, which is ridiculous. There are scientific techniques to date artifacts, no person can do it just by looking at it. They just went around a field with their metal detector and stopped whenever the metal detector found something. This is surely not archaeology.

  6. I really like every point you stated above. The men showed in the video called ‘Diggers’ are clearly not archaeologists. They don’t show any responsibility and respect to the preserverance of arhaeological records. Even they mentioned the approximate value of every single discovery they found, which is not ethical because commercialization is not allowed among archaeologists. Also, the technique they used to search for every artifacts look very superficial. Overall, they did not follow seven of the ethical principles listed. I would say that they were just having fun and pretending to be professional archaeologists that can figure all the story in the past.

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