Posted November 06, 2018 07:16:13When archaeologists don’t act, they’re in the public domain, says the head of the United States’ National Institute of Archaeology.
“Archaeology has to be a profession,” said Mary Lou Bruner, who will replace longtime archaeologist Mark McCollum in a new position.
“I want archaeologists to be able to do their jobs.
It’s time for archaeologists to act.”
The role Bruner will fill will require her to manage the research programs of several U.S. agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Museum of Natural History.
Bruner is a senior director at the nonprofit Archaeology Alliance, which focuses on helping universities and private companies better leverage archaeology research.
Her appointment comes amid the ongoing debate over how best to fund and promote archaeological research.
In a letter to members of Congress last week, the National Academy of Sciences, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, and the American Society of Archaeologists (ASA) warned of a lack of resources for archaeologists who might not be able “to perform their duties effectively” as part of a broader “dysfunctional scientific workforce.”
Bruners predecessor in the position, John P. Hartley, wrote that he had “been disappointed by the lack of public investment in archaeology” and that “archaeological research should be seen as a public good.”
He said the agency’s budget was “limited by the resources available to us” and the “continuing need for archaeologists in the field.”
But Bruner’s role in the agency, she told The Associated Press, “has nothing to do with the fact that I am an archaeologist.
I’ve been a professional archaeologist for the last 25 years.
The archaeology profession is about building relationships and being able to connect with communities.
And that’s what I do.”
Her appointment does not come without criticism.
The academy’s letter to Congress, which was published in the journal Antiquity, criticized Bruner for having been “frequently appointed in roles that have no real relevance to archaeology.”
The letter also pointed to her “dishonest and irresponsible conduct,” which led to “serious repercussions” in the academy’s membership.
It noted that Bruner was involved in a controversial report in 2016 that suggested “the use of human feces and urine samples to test for traces of Neanderthal DNA in prehistoric human feces.”
“I was wrong,” Bruner said in an interview with the AP.
“They should have held me accountable.
They were very clear about that.
And it’s just not right.”
In addition to her role at the academy, Bruner is also a member of the Association of American Archaeologists.
The organization, founded in 1908, has a mission to support the “full development of archaeology,” and is not affiliated with the National Academy or the Smithsonian Institution.
Brunner’s position comes in the wake of several high-profile controversies surrounding archaeology and the public’s right to know.
The American Society for Historic Preservation has accused the NSF of having “failed to protect the public from the harmful effects of the federal government’s antiquities program.”
The organization has also been concerned that the NSf’s budget “does not account for the costs of human and environmental health and safety.”
The National Park Service has been under fire for the lack the funding for its antiquities research.
A lawsuit against the agency is pending.
And, in a rare move, the Obama administration ordered the removal of two monuments from the National Mall in January, citing the potential for looting of artifacts from the sites.
The issue of antiquities has been a source of contention for decades.
A 2011 study by the American Archaeological Association found that between 1900 and 2010, the number of federal artifacts seized in the United.
States dropped by more than 60 percent.
The number of artifacts stolen from private collections also dropped by 60 percent during that same period.
While the decline in antiquities may have been due to the increasing awareness of the issue, it also stemmed from a perceived lack of funding.
The National Park service says it receives more than $1.5 billion annually in direct funding from the federal governments.
Despite the ongoing outcry over antiquities, the National Academies has consistently said that it is a nonpartisan institution and will not support partisan candidates for federal office.
In an email to The Associated