In 1974, the Society of American Archeology passed the following resolution:
Whereas each archeological site contains evidence of specific human activities and is therefore a unique source of data about past socio-cultural behavior, no site can be written off in advance as unimportant or expendable. No site deserves less than professional excavation, analysis and publication, and whereas the training of students in archeological skills is an important part of an anthropological curriculum, and whereas such training is likely to be grossly inadequate and misleading to the student if it is not given in the context of a serious research commitment on the part of the instructor to the archeological resources in question.
Therefore be it resolved that the practice of excavating or collecting from archeological sites solely or primarily for “teaching” purposes is contrary to the provision against indiscriminate excavation of archeological sites contained in Article I, Section 2 of the bylaws of the Society for American Archaeology. Such activities are to be deplored, whether conducted by anthropologists who are not adequately trained in archeological field techniques, or by trained archeologists who do not have continuing research interest in the resources in question.
Be it further resolved that such activities are unethical as defined in Article III, Section 4 of the bylaws of the Society for American Archaeology and by the guidelines of the ethics committee of the American Anthropological Association, and that members of these organizations who engage in such practices are subject to appropriate sanctions.
In accordance with these principles, and by virtue of its role in providing guidance and standards for the performance of archeological research, the Society of Professional Archeologists recommends that an academic archeological field school meet the following minimal criteria:
The Register of Professional Archaeologists will attach identification criteria to each field school certification to indicate its duration and the presence or absence of prerequisite training prior to field school participation.
Criterion 1 — the total number of weeks of field and laboratory experience each participant will gain if she/he completes the full field school program. Each full five days of field or laboratory experience will count as one week. For example, a certified field school with twenty days (4 weeks) of total training time will be certified as “RPA-4.”
Criterion 2—Presence of any prerequisite training prior to taking the field school. If field school participants are required to complete formal courses prior to the field school, or continue various research activities after their participation in a certified field school, a “P” will be added. For example, if a twenty day field school requires coursework before or after the completion of the field portion of the program, that program will be certified as “RPA-4P.”
Field schools which provide fewer than twenty days of field experience may be certified as “RPA-Introductory.” This category recognizes field schools which provide students with an important exposure to archaeological field work, but do not constitute a full training experience.
In order for Register to certify a field school, we must make a determination if the proposed program meets the published RPA guidelines. In order to do this, simply complete the online application and submit it, along with the application processing fee of $35. Approved field schools will be certified for two years. Re-certification after the end of the second certification year will require completion of a new application form.
Please visit our RPA Field School Certification page for more information on how to apply, our review process, and current deadlines for application.