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BVAR Code of Conduct


Students, staff, and associated individuals working with the BVAR project are expected to adhere to high standards of behavior and conduct. The project supports the Register of Professional Archaeologists' Code of Conduct, as well as the Society for American Archaeology's Principles of Archaeological Ethics. Below we list the projects' code of conduct which we expect all project directors, supervisors, students, and associated individuals (both research and otherwise) to uphold.

BVAR members shall:

  • Respect project staff and supervisors, students, the people who we work with, and the people (living and dead), material remains, and places we study.

  • Treat all human remains with the utmost respect. We do not allow students or staff to give burials nicknames. We do not allow anyone to pose for silly pictures with burials. We do not allow photos of burials to be posted on social media or elsewhere online. These were living people and should be treated accordingly.

  • Understand that we are working in a cultural setting that is dissimilar to that which we may be accustomed. We pledge to be respectful to that culture and the individuals who we interact with while in Belize.

  • Look out for each others' safety and well-being and report any unsafe conditions or situations to project directors. An anonymous report can be submitted to the project here.

  • Follow project rules, as well as laws established by Belize. In cases where other individuals are observed breaking these rules, especially as they relate to the consumption of alcohol (during official project hours) or drugs, an anonymous report can be submitted to the project here.

  • Be flexible! Managing a large project means that sometimes things don't go as planned and we need to improvise. Be willing to be helpful and realize that we are all doing our best to make the project run smoothly.

  • Be sensitive to, and respect the concerns of, groups whose culture histories are the subjects of archaeological investigations.

  • Work as a team and acknowledge the contributions of individual project members. Credit for work (publications, maps, data analysis, report writing) should be given in all instances. BVAR is a collaborative project so we encourage project members to work together!

  • Disseminate the results of research completed in a timely manner, both within the academic community and to the broader public.  BVAR requires all research to be summarized and made available to tour guides, school groups, and other interested parties.

BVAR members shall not:

  • Engage in any illegal or unethical conduct involving archaeological or other matters.

  • Knowingly be involved in the recovery or excavation of artifacts for commercial exploitation, or knowingly be employed by or knowingly contract with an individual or entity who recovers or excavates archaeological artifacts or sites for commercial exploitation.

  • Take any artifacts home. If we find that artifacts are missing, we will contact local authorities, who may search BVAR housing to locate missing items.

  • Belittle, condescend, or treat other individuals in a manner which does not support their well-being, training, or research.

  • Engage in behavior that makes other individuals feel unsafe. This can include unwanted contact (verbal or physical), verbal harassment, bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Any instances of these behaviors should be reported to the project directors. Resources are available in the cases of sexual harassment and assault, through the BVAR-SAFE guidelines and through the NAU Title IX office. See additional resources here.

  • Have unethical relationships between students and project staff.

Any instances where the code of conduct is not being upheld by any individual on BVAR can be reported using our online form, found here.


The form is anonymous, although you may leave your name if you like and we will follow up on your submission. Additional resources, in cases of sexual harassment or assault can be found in the BVAR-SAFE resources, found here.

The BVAR project also works to uphold the Principles of Archaeological Ethics, developed by the Society for American Archaeology:

Principle No. 1: Stewardship

The archaeological record, that is, in situ archaeological material and sites, archaeological collections, records and reports, is irreplaceable. It is the responsibility of all archaeologists to work for the long-term conservation and protection of the archaeological record by practicing and promoting stewardship of the archaeological record. Stewards are both caretakers of and advocates for the archaeological record for the benefit of all people; as they investigate and interpret the record, they should use the specialized knowledge they gain to promote public understanding and support for its long-term preservation.

Principle No. 2: Accountability

Responsible archaeological research, including all levels of professional activity, requires an acknowledgment of public accountability and a commitment to make every reasonable effort, in good faith, to consult actively with affected group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved.

Principle No. 3: Commercialization

The Society for American Archaeology has long recognized that the buying and selling of objects out of archaeological context is contributing to the destruction of the archaeological record on the American continents and around the world. The commercialization of archaeological objects - their use as commodities to be exploited for personal enjoyment or profit - results in the destruction of archaeological sites and of contextual information that is essential to understanding the archaeological record. Archaeologists should therefore carefully weigh the benefits to scholarship of a project against the costs of potentially enhancing the commercial value of archaeological objects. Whenever possible they should discourage, and should themselves avoid, activities that enhance the commercial value of archaeological objects, especially objects that are not curated in public institutions, or readily available for scientific study, public interpretation, and display.

Principle No. 4: Public Education and Outreach

Archaeologists should reach out to, and participate in cooperative efforts with others interested in the archaeological record with the aim of improving the preservation, protection, and interpretation of the record. In particular, archaeologists should undertake to: 1) enlist public support for the stewardship of the archaeological record; 2) explain and promote the use of archaeological methods and techniques in understanding human behavior and culture; and 3) communicate archaeological interpretations of the past. Many publics exist for archaeology including students and teachers; Native Americans and other ethnic, religious, and cultural groups who find in the archaeological record important aspects of their cultural heritage; lawmakers and government officials; reporters, journalists, and others involved in the media; and the general public. Archaeologists who are unable to undertake public education and outreach directly should encourage and support the efforts of others in these activities.

Principle No. 5: Intellectual Property

Intellectual property, as contained in the knowledge and documents created through the study of archaeological resources, is part of the archaeological record. As such it should be treated in accord with the principles of stewardship rather than as a matter of personal possession. If there is a compelling reason, and no legal restrictions or strong countervailing interests, a researcher may have primary access to original materials and documents for a limited and reasonable time, after which these materials and documents must be made available to others.

Principle No. 6: Public Reporting and Publication

Within a reasonable time, the knowledge archaeologists gain from investigation of the archaeological record must be presented in accessible form (through publication or other means) to as wide a range of interested publics as possible. The documents and materials on which publication and other forms of public reporting are based should be deposited in a suitable place for permanent safekeeping. An interest in preserving and protecting in situ archaeological sites must be taken in to account when publishing and distributing information about their nature and location.

Principle No. 7: Records and Preservation

Archaeologists should work actively for the preservation of, and long term access to, archaeological collections, records, and reports. To this end, they should encourage colleagues, students, and others to make responsible use of collections, records, and reports in their research as one means of preserving the in situ archaeological record, and of increasing the care and attention given to that portion of the archaeological record which has been removed and incorporated into archaeological collections, records, and reports.

Principle No. 8: Training and Resources

Given the destructive nature of most archaeological investigations, archaeologists must ensure that they have adequate training, experience, facilities, and other support necessary to conduct any program of research they initiate in a manner consistent with the foregoing principles and contemporary standards of professional practice.

Principle No. 9: Safe Educational and Workplace Environments

Archaeologists in all work, educational, and other professional settings, including fieldwork and conferences, are responsible for training the next generation of archaeologists. Part of these responsibilities involves fostering a supportive and safe environment for students and trainees. This includes knowing the laws and policies of their home nation and institutional workplace that pertain to harassment and assault based upon sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, national origin, religion, or marital status. SAA members will abide by these laws and ensure that the work and educational settings in which they have responsible roles as supervisors are conducted so as to avoid violations of these laws and act to maintain safe and respectful work and learning environments.

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