The fact that archeologists play an important role in explaining the former lives of human beings cannot be refuted. The processes involved in extracting various information for the archeologists are numerous and diverse. However, in most cases, these processes do affect the people who reside in the given area where the archeological evidence is located. That fact not withstanding, archeologists have the obligation of ensuring past lives are comprehended and systematically explained. Archeologists have ethically been challenged in their activities regarding the discovery and explaining of past human lives in their respective environment and community. The vital question posed to the archeologists is whether they owe respect, to a certain level to the descent communities.
Archeologists clearly have the right to perform their research duties. The possibility that descent communities might have had some wishes concerning various activities and how they would prefer the researchers to conduct their work, should not stand in the way of archeology. However, with ethics and professionalism duly applied, it is vital to note that according the descent communities with the rightful respect is crucial. For example in the case about Kennewick Man, the fossils should not be given back to the community since they are important tool for the archeological reconstruction of how the Native Americans used to live. However the Archeologists should show some respect to the community and ensure that the latter understands why the fossils are being kept. It would also be good to give the community a percentage of any revenue that will be generated by the fossil. Therefore, considering the fact that discipline of archeology has developed relatively into a science and a respected educational career, applying professionalism is vital. Further, the discipline should be governed by a code of professional ethics, this being one.
Consider Belzoni, the first European to enter the temple of Abu Simbel. The way he conducted his activities in Egypt was completely unprofessional. He taints the profession of archeology with this kind of conduct. He further accepts the fact that he was out to rob the Egyptians of their vital history (Delcolle 3). These acts clearly label the profession of archeology as wrongful and one that infringes on the rights of the locals.
Archeologists must take the values and wants of others into account, their respectable scientific modes of operation notwithstanding. The recent passing of NAGPRA has demonstrated that the authority of science over the dead is not an absolute one. Therefore, the archeologists have been forced to operate with respect to the wishes of the descent communities. The archeologists must learn to live with the wishes of others since they do not operate in a vacuum.
It is crucial to note that this aspect of consideration has affected the discipline of archeology to some degree. Some instructors in this field have acknowledged that their students studying bio-anthropology for instance, a discipline which involves the examination of skeletal remains, are now questioning the possibility of whether they should continue in that field. This is due to both the ethical and practical reasons that are in place currently.
It is vital that archeologists and the locals talk and agree before any scientific processes or excavation is effected. This process has in the past worked very well for some individuals. When the indigenous people and the archeologists cooperate and reach some conclusive compromises, the consequent archeological process is marked with dignity and conducted with professional order whether it is on World War I soldiers or on African slaves; they all were human regardless of their status. Donald Ryan, an archaeologist at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, is one of the proposers of this concept (Delcolle 3). The archeologist gives an example of the orderly activities which took place in the Egyptian tombs.
With the example of Donald Ryan, it is evident that applying certain ethical conducts, such as respecting the wishes of descent communities, archaeology becomes a respectable and successive profession. It is therefore upon all individuals involved with this discipline to adopt new ways of conduct and accept the vital obligation of respecting the wants of decent communities in their works.
Delcolle, John. “Ethics and Archaeology: Can you dig it?” The Economist 28 March 2002. Print