Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Archeology Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I protect a known archeological site on my property?

We recommend that you keep a record of artifacts found lying on the surface of your property. We also suggest that the site be left in its natural, undisturbed condition and that it be protected from inadvertent destruction. We strongly encourage you to avoid ground disturbance or other earth moving activities or construction in the vicinity of your site. We also encourage landowners to register sites with the SHPO.

Should I allow people to dig on my property to find archeological information?

We recommend that you do not allow unqualified individuals to "collect" or "dig" on your property. If necessary, report any unauthorized activities to local police. However, we do encourage scholarly research by qualified individuals or groups in order to document a site's significance. The study should identify relevant research questions before on-site examinations begin and there should be an effort to share the results of the investigation through publications, presentations or other venues. For additional guidance, contact the SHPO.

Do I need to be a qualified archeologist to report a site to the SHPO?

No. Anyone can report a site and have it added to the statewide archeological inventory. This inventory is used to help identify areas of archeological sensitivity as well as patterns of land use and human activity. A site can be reported by completing a New York State Archeological Site Inventory Form and submitting it to the Archeology Unit, Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau, PO Box 189, Waterford, NY 12188-0189. The forms referenced on this site are currently not available online. Please contact our office for copies of this documents."

Once a site is reported, how will that information be used?

We are aware that many sites are located on private property and we respect a landowner's right to privacy. Information about the locations of archeological sites is considered confidential and is not made available to the public. Instead, this information is used in the development of statewide archeological sensitivity data, which aids scientific research, facilitates preservation planning, and helps to protect sites from inadvertent disturbance or destruction.

What is a "qualified professional" archeologist?

To be considered a qualified professional archeologist in New York State, an individual must meet the criteria identified in the Secretary of the Interior's Professional Qualifications Standards and published in 36CFR61. These nationally recognized, federal qualifications identify specific levels of education and experience.

What is the role of "avocational" archeologists?

Although they may not meet the formal qualifications to be considered "professional" archeologists, many individuals have developed a serious interest in conducting archeological research and in sharing the results of their work with others. These individuals are known as avocational archeologists and should not be confused with amateur collectors or looters. Research projects developed by avocational archeologists have contributed significantly to our understanding of the past and will continue to play an important role in archeological research.

How do I promote the protection of archeological sites in my community?

You can take an active role in preserving the record of your community's history by promoting public awareness and education, such as informing your local government when known sites may be threatened through development. Public information sessions, such as local planning board meetings, also provide important opportunities for incorporating archeological resources into local, regional, state, and federal project development processes.