Frequently Asked Questions


Do you have informational programs for school and community groups?

We offer informational programs to interested schools and community groups whenever possible. We can provide in-person presentations or Skype calls about archaeology in North Carolina. Please contact us for more information.

Can I volunteer to help at an archaeological site or in the lab?

The OSA Research Center regularly accepts volunteers when space is available. For more information on volunteering, please visit our volunteer page
Occasionally, OSA will conduct small-scale digs, typically at State Historic Sites or State Parks that are open to the public. For information about upcoming digs and other opportunities, please visit the news page

Where can I learn more about the Queen Anne’s Revenge pirate ship?

Visit qaronline for more information about the Queen Anne's Revenge Project.

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is an honorary designation and list of sites and properties that have been determined by the State Historic Preservation Officer and the National Park Service to be significant to the history of the United States at a local, state, or national level. Listings include: districts, buildings, objects, structures, and sites. For more information, visit the National Register page.

What sort of grants are available for archaeological surveys and research?

Grants are available to mainly local governments and organizations for architectural and archaeological surveys, National Register nominations, and preservation planning administered through the Historic Preservation Office. For information about grants, please visit NC HPO

How do I find the staff archaeologist in my area?

We have a map for that! Type in your address or zoom in to your city, county, or region to find the archaeologist who specializes in your region.

How do I report an artifact or archaeological site?

If you know of or found an archaeological site, please fill out a site form and send it to us. Your site will be added to the states official site inventory and you will be contributing to the study of North Carolina's history. Check out our Get Involved page for more information about ways to contribute to archaeology.

What are the guidelines for materials submitted as artifacts to OSA?

OSA maintains strict guidelines for the curation of artifacts submitted to OSARC. Collections that do not meet these guidelines may not be accepted by our curation facility. Please read our curation guidelines for more information.  On rare occasions, OSARC has accepted unique collections that are not ready for long-term curation; however, artifacts that meet the guidelines require less time and research to be processed by OSARC personnel.

How can I view OSA’s data and inventory of artifacts?

Contact us at least two weeks in advance to schedule a visit. Individuals seeking to do background research at an OSA facility must meet or be under the supervision of an individual who meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards as described in 36 CFR Part 61 (See OSA Standards and Guidelines Part 2b). It is expected individuals doing background research will have been trained in how to conduct research at the OSA prior to scheduling an appointment. 

To protect sites from looting, OSA's data and inventory is protected by state statute and we reserve the right to restrict access to informtation when deemed necessary.

What should you do if you discover human bones?

Do not touch or disturb the bones. Notify the state or local police and the regional medical examiner about the discovery and location.

Why are bones sometimes found?

In North Carolina, many unmarked graves exist without gravestones, fences, tombstones, or other surface indications of their presence. These are chiefly the graves of prehistoric and historic Native Americans, which may never have been marked at all; or graves which had been identified at one time in the past, but the markers no longer exist. As a result, bones are often found during ordinary ground disturbing activities such as the construction of new homes, utilities, or roads; in the agricultural or industrial use of a site; or the excavation of borrow pits. Bones are also sometimes found eroding out of areas exposed by natural erosion, floodwater scouring, or sand dune formation.
N.C. General Statute 70, Article 3 establishes procedures to follow when human bones are accidentally discovered.

When bones are found, who is involved?

What does the Medical Examiner do?

The Medical Examiner investigates the discovery to determine whether the bones are human, and whether a criminal investigation may be warranted. If G.S. 130-198 does not apply, the Chief Medical Examiner then notifies the State Archaeologist, who immediately conducts an archaeological investigation of the site. Throughout these investigations, the police authorities should insure that the site is protected from further damage.

What does the State Archaeologist do?

The State Archaeologist investigates the site to determine the age, cultural association and identity of the burial. If the State Archaeologist determines that the burial is that of a Native American, the Commission of Indian Affairs is notified. The State Archaeologist consults with the landowner to determine whether the burial can remain undisturbed. In the case of development projects, the owner and State Archaeologist discuss whether there are prudent and feasible steps the owner can take to protect the burial. If it is impossible to avoid future harm to the burial, the State Archaeologist will arrange to have the remains removed.

What does the Commission of Indian Affairs do?

The archaeological investigation of Indian burials is monitored by the Commission of Indian Affairs to insure that the remains are treated respectfully.

Please remember: Once bones or artifacts are removed from the site, valuable information concerning the identity and age of the human remains is lost. Therefore, it is important not to disturb the site in any way until the State Archaeologist can conduct an investigation and record the discovery.

North Carolina General Statute 70, Art. 3 - The Unmarked Human Burial and Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act. 

More Information on Cemeteries