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Archaeological Stewardship in North Carolina: What? Why? and How?

Archaeological Stewardship

Everyone can help record archaeological sites; thousands of the recorded sites in North Carolina were reported by avocational collectors. If you know about or have found a Native American site (campsite, village, burial) please report its location by filling out a Citizen Archaeologist Form and sending it to us. Once we review the location, we will assign an official state site number and add it to the state's collection of nearly 50,000 archaeological sites. This record can then be used by archaeologists interested in studying the state's past inhabitants. Mail or email us your completed site form. 

Keep good records

If you collect artifacts from an archaeological site it is very important to keep good records. You should mark each of your sites on an accurate map, such as a USGS topographic map or use a GPS device if you have one. It is important to keep artifacts from different sites separated. Label each artifact in a way that will tell you from which site they came. For example, give the site a name (or number) and mark your artifacts with their site name or number with indelible ink.

Report destruction of archaeological sites

Report any construction, destruction or land-altering plans which involve an archaeological site as soon as the plans are made so that the information found there may be collected and saved. If there are known human burials contact OSA and the sheriff's office immediately.

Don't dig in archaeological sites

Refrain from digging on archaeological sites. The locations of artifacts and other fragile archaeological remains are evidence of the behavior of the people who made them. Only careful, scientific excavation enables the archaeologist to recover and interpret this evidence. Remember, once a site is excavated or disturbed in some way, it is gone forever.

Some sites are protected by state and federal laws

Know the laws pertaining to the collection of archaeological remains. It is against the law to collect artifacts from state or federal property without proper authorization. It is against state law to disturb marked or unmarked graves or burial sites on private or public property. It is illegal to collect artifacts from the bottoms of navigable bodies of water if the artifacts are more than ten years old. It can be a trespassing violation to gather artifacts on private property without the permission of the landowner.

Learn about our state's history

Become knowledgeable about the prehistory of our state and the people who lived here for thousands of years. Respect archaeological sites and support programs aimed at the proper management of these cultural resources.

Archaeology Month

October is Archaeology Month in North Carolina. Join us for special events celebrating the state's rich archaeological history. 

Learn More


You are encouraged to join the North Carolina Archaeological Society, an organization open to all that is committed to the study and preservation of the state's archaeological resources.

The state's professional organization, the North Carolina Archaeological Council, consists of archaeologists, physical anthropologists and related professionals concerned with the archaeology of North Carolina.