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What Happens When a Construction Team Finds Historic Artifacts: A Comprehensive Guide

I. Understanding the Discovery:

  1. Identification: Construction teams should first identify and determine whether the found objects are, indeed, historic artifacts.
  2. Documentation: Detailed documentation of the artifacts, including photographs and descriptions, is essential for historical preservation and future research.
  3. Preservation: Immediate measures must be taken to protect and preserve the artifacts to prevent damage or loss.

II. Legal Obligations and Regulations:

  1. Compliance: Construction teams must adhere to local, state, and federal laws regarding the discovery and handling of historic artifacts.
  2. Reporting: The discovery should be reported to the appropriate authorities, such as local historical societies, archaeologists, or government agencies.
  3. Halting Construction: In some cases, construction may need to be temporarily halted until the artifacts have been properly examined and documented.

III. Collaborating with Experts:

  1. Archaeological Assessment: Qualified archaeologists or heritage

During a construction project in Albany, New York, in 2005, workers unearthed a human skull, which led to the discovery of an eighteenth-century burial site, 

What might happen to artefacts discovered during a dig?

Professional archaeologists do not keep, buy, sell, or trade any artifacts. Quite simply, they don't get to keep what they find because it doesn't belong to them. If archaeologists kept what they found, they would be the only ones to know the story behind the object. Archaeologists want to share their discoveries.

What are the items found in historical sites?

Examples include tools, pottery, metal objects, weapons, and items of personal adornments, such as jewelry or death masks. Ancient historical artifacts help shed light on the lives of our ancestors and our heritage.

What are the things found in excavation?

Archaeologists study the remains of buildings made of stone and bricks, paintings, sculpture and they also dig under the surface of the earth to find tools, weapons, pots, pans, ornaments and coins. Tools and weapons they find could have been made of stone. Buildings can be made of stone as well.

What does an archaeologist do?

Archeologist—a scientist who studies past peoples and cultures by excavating and examining material remains as simple as an arrowpoint or as complex as the ruins of a prehistoric village. Archeologists study ancient cultures as well as recent historic occupations.

What happens if you find a historical artifact?

Archeologists excavate artifacts from archeological sites. Artifacts are not souvenirs! Leave the artifact where you found it. Please don't pick it up, move it, throw it, put it in your pocket or your bag, or bury it.

What do archaeologists do first when they find a site?

First they will check if there were any previous surveys in the area and, if so, what the results were. If there are no previously recorded sites, the archaeologist will conduct an archaeological survey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the greatest risk when excavating on a jobsite?

Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are more likely than some other excavation-related incidents to result in worker fatalities. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. An unprotected trench can be an early grave.

How do you excavate an archaeological site?

Most excavation is done with sharp flat skim shovels. The soil is carefully scraped, shaving thin layers at a time. The archaeologist is looking for artifacts and for soil changes. An experienced archaeologist can "feel" the different soil textures in a site, or when they've found an artifact.

What tools does an archaeological dig require?

Equipment they need to perform precise excavations. Tools found in a typical archaeological toolbox include dental picks, trowels, brushes, measuring tapes, line levels, storage bags, pens, and pencils. conjunction with a tape measure that allows for more precise measurements to be taken on an archaeological site.

What happens if you find historical artifacts on your property?

Under American Common Law, an artifact found on, or beneath, the surface of your property is considered part of the real estate. This is true for an arrowhead resting on the surface of a plowed field, or a Civil War cannonball found underneath a foot of soil. If it's on your property, it's yours to keep.

What happens if you find something historical?

Taking Artifacts Is Illegal

Federal law protects archeological sites and artifacts on federal lands. You may not dig, collect artifacts, use metal detectors, or deface rock images in national park units. Violations may result in jail time or fines, as well as con- fiscation of equipment.

FAQ

What happens when an artifact is found?
Leave the artifact where you found it. Please don't pick it up, move it, throw it, put it in your pocket or your bag, or bury it. Note where you are. Snap a picture of the artifact where you found it.

What if I find an artifact on my property?

Under American Common Law, an artifact found on, or beneath, the surface of your property is considered part of the real estate. This is true for an arrowhead resting on the surface of a plowed field, or a Civil War cannonball found underneath a foot of soil. If it's on your property, it's yours to keep.

Why does it matter where an artifact is found?

Its vertical location (where it falls in soil stratigraphy) may tell us how old it is, or where it falls in time relative to other artifacts at the site. The artifacts found around it may help us understand what was going on in that spot.

Why do archeologists stop digging when they hit water?

Even so, water was a big problem for the archaeologists. Wet spots made it hard for them to see patterns in the soil. The dampness also caused the thin walls of earth between the cofferdam and the excavation to fall down.

What happens to artifacts after they are excavated?

Archaeologists wash, sort, catalog, and store recovered artifacts after bringing them back from the field. They analyze individual artifacts, but also may sort them into groups to see patterns. For example, they might weigh all the oyster shells together or count all the nails and consider them as one unit.

What happens when a construction team finds historic artifacts

What happens to the artefacts once they are excavated?

Analyzing Artifacts

Archaeologists wash, sort, catalog, and store recovered artifacts after bringing them back from the field. They analyze individual artifacts, but also may sort them into groups to see patterns.

What do historical artifacts reveal?

Archaeologists excavate areas in which ancient cultures lived and use the artifacts found there to learn about the past. Many ancient cultures did not have a written language or did not actively record their history, so artifacts sometimes provide the only clues about how the people lived.

Is it illegal to destroy historical artifacts?

Laws pertaining to state and federal lands do not distinguish between surface collecting and digging for artifacts. In other words, removing artifacts from state and federal lands is illegal.

Can you keep an artifact if you find it?

In the United States, it is legal to collect artifacts from private property if you have written permission from the landowner. Other requirements are dependent on the state. If you are interested in collecting or metal detecting on private property, contact your State Historic Preservation Office for more information.

What are 99% of fossils found from?

Marine animals

Nearly all fossils we find - around 99% - are from marine animals such as shellfish and sharks. This is because they lived in the sea, where sand or mud could bury their remains quickly after they died.

  • Where is the most common place to find fossils?
    • Good places to find fossils are outcrops. An outcrop is a place where old rock is exposed by wind and water erosion and by other people's digging. Make sure that you plan to dig in a place where it is okay to collect fossils. Check with an adult if you're not sure.

  • Where have the most fossils been found?
    • Dinosaur fossils have been found on every continent of Earth, including Antarctica but most of the dinosaur fossils and the greatest variety of species have been found high in the deserts and badlands of North America, China and Argentina.

  • How many fossils were found in total?
    • We have over 40 million fossil specimens from around the world.

  • How rare is it to find a fossil?
    • Fossilisation is so unlikely that scientists estimate that less one-tenth of 1% of all the animal species that have ever lived have become fossils. Far fewer of them have been found.

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