Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

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Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Institute for Archaeologists (logo).png
Abbreviation CIfA
Formation 1982
Legal status Professional organisation
Purpose To advance the practice of archaeology and allied disciplines
Headquarters Miller Building, University of Reading
Chief Executive
Peter Hinton

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists is a professional organisation for archaeologists working in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1982 to represent the profession and currently has over 3500[1] members drawn from all areas of the archaeological community.

Membership is by election following a satisfactory demonstration of archaeological experience and competence and an undertaking to abide by the Institute's Code of conduct. The CIfA's aims are to advance the practice of archaeology and allied disciplines by promoting professional standards and ethics for conserving, managing, understanding and promoting enjoyment of the heritage.

The institute's headquarters are located within the Miller Building, on the Whiteknights Campus of the University of Reading.


The chartered Institute for Archaeologists was founded as the Institute of Field Archaeologists to represent the growing number of 'professional' archaeologists, caused by the increase in rescue archaeology in the 1960s and 70s. An increasing number of archaeologists came to feel a need for a body to maintain standards, tackle poor working conditions, give archaeologists a national voice and create a real profession. The Council for British Archaeology after some debate decided not to take on this mantle so in 1979 the Association for the Promotion of Field Archaeologists was launched and canvassed opinion on what form the new body should take. Elections were held and APIFA handed over responsibility to the first council on the 21 December 1982. The first chair and Member No 1 was Professor Peter Addyman and other notable early members were Mick Aston (21), Philip Barker and Francis Pryor (15).

In 2008, after many years of debate, the institute changed its name in order to attract professionals from the wider historic environment sector.[2]


CIfA is responsible for the production and maintenance of a Code of conduct along with a variety of Standards and Guidance documents and policy material. As well as lobbying and making representations to national and local government and other agencies on behalf of its members, it organises conferences and outreach and training initiatives (including the administration of workplace learning bursaries and the development of vocational qualifications) and hopes soon to provide on-line Continuing Professional Development facilities. Its publications include a quarterly magazine The Archaeologist, and a Yearbook and Directory. Members also receive a reduction on the The Historic Environment, a journal published by Maney Publishing.



CIfA offers three corporate grades of membership: Practitioner (PCIfA) grade is the first level of corporate membership; Associate (ACIfA) grade provides an intermediate level and Members (MCIfAs) represent the highest level of corporate membership open to those with the greatest level of responsibility and competence. Corporate members may be professional or amateur archaeologists and are permitted to use the relevant four letter abbreviation after their names.[3] All corporate members have full voting rights within the Institute.

Affiliate, Student and Honorary membership are also available. Student membership is open to students in full or part-time at under- or post-graduate level, where archaeology is studied in equal or greater weight to another subject.[4] Student membership is retained for up to 12 months after graduation after which it is automatically transferred to Affiliate membership.[4] Affiliate membership is open to those who have an active interest in archaeology but do not yet qualify for a corporate grade.[4] Honorary Membership is awarded in a general meeting to those who have served archaeology and the IfA with distinction.[4] Honorary Members are not corporate members but retain their corporate membership if applicable and so retain voting rights.


In 1996 CIfA launched a Register of Archaeological Organisations (RAOs) which provides a quality assurance scheme for archaeological organisations. As of November 2016 there are 78 organisations on the register.[5]


Critics contend that CIfA has done little to improve the pay and conditions of low-ranking archaeologists and has been unwilling to discipline members who have transgressed the Code of conduct. There are also frequent references to CIfA on BAJR Forum, where the workings of CIfA are challenged. This has often resulted in dialogue and has been beneficial in removing the image of CIfA being a "hidden organisation" from the contracting archaeologist. In recent years CIfA has done much to address these criticisms, improving its disciplinary and complaints procedures and committing significant resources to dealing with allegations of misconduct and complaints against members and Registered Organisations. With regard to pay and conditions, CIfA has set up the Diggers' Forum (a special interest group specifically formed to represent the interests of diggers); produced recommended minima for pay and other benefits (which are to be binding upon organisations registered with CIfA); played a large part in the production of Occupational Standards for archaeology and is continuing to work with the union, Prospect to benchmark salary levels against other industries (realistically a pre-requisite to any form of industry-wide pay bargaining framework).


  1. ^ About the IfA, retrieved May 6, 2007
  2. ^ IFA - Constitutional Changes, retrieved November 9, 2008
  3. ^ Join/Register, retrieved May 19, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d Applicants Handbook, retrieved May 19, 2007
  5. ^ IFA stats, retrieved May 6, 2007
  • Addyman, P. (2003). 'Memories Peter Addyman Chair 1982-1985' in The Archaeologist No. 50 Autumn 2003
  • IFA (2007). Institute of Field Archaeologists Yearbook and Directory 2007 ISBN 978-1-900915-40-3


Darvill, T (ed.) (2003). Oxford Concise Dictionary of Archaeology, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280005-1.

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