The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) announces its new professional standards for use in determining archaeological value in criminal and civil cases brought under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA). These standards represent a strong step toward better protection of the nation's archaeological and cultural heritage.
ARPA is one of the principal federal statutes protecting archaeological and cultural heritage resources in the United States. Criminal prosecutions and the assessment of civil penalties under ARPA require the determination of "archaeological value" (16 USC 470ee and 470ff). This critical determination also assumed increased importance in sentencing for violations of ARPA and certain other federal statutes when the new Cultural Heritage Sentencing Guideline recently developed by the United States Sentencing Commission became effective on November 1, 2002.
When ARPA cases occur, archaeologists are called upon to assess the extent of the damage to the archaeological resources involved in the violation. Beyond the legal definition of the term "archaeological value" in the ARPA Uniform Regulations, however, no formalized professional standards existed to assist archaeologists performing archaeological damage assessments in ARPA cases.
Over the past two years the SAA Task Force on Archaeological Law Enforcement has worked to develop professional standards for the determination of archaeological value in ARPA criminal and civil cases. Last month, SAA's Board of Directors formally adopted the Task Force's final product. The SAA believes that these standards will greatly assist both archaeologists and law enforcement officials in protecting the nation's irreplaceable archaeological resources.
View the professional standards.