Re: Private - Lynn S Teague
Subject: Re: Private
From: Lynn S Teague
Date: July 04, 1998

I'm a professional archaeologist, and have been involved in administration
of federal and state laws for the protection of cultural property for
about 25 years. I haven't lived in SC for more than 20 years so I can't
offer chapter and verse on current laws there, but I'll summarize the
general situation:

About the only hope you have of protecting historic sites (or prehistoric
sites) on your property is by prosecuting for theft. It doesn't take much
(unfortunately) to reach dollar levels to make this a felony because the
market in antiquities always flourishes, so if you can actually get the
attention of your sheriff and county prosecutor this could be an effective
deterrent. However, you'll have to deal with a) priorities, convincing
them that this is worth doing when they are otherwise occupied with
murders, drugs, etc. and b) their self-interest, since you'll frequently
find that law enforcement personnel or their relatives view digging for
antiquities as their own weekend recreation. 

Why no specific laws protecting antiquities on private land? Many
European countries have such laws, viewing such sites as the shared
heritage of the entire country. The largest part of the answer is that
any effective law would also protect the antiquities from the landowner --
would make it harder to plow up, develop, flood, or otherwise damage and
destroy sites on private land. There is an enormous lobby against this.
Second is the lobby of people who think hunting  old shells with metal
detectors, digging up arrow points, and so forth is good clean fun and
they lobby very vocally against even federal and state land protections.
Remember that until recently the Boy Scouts had a merit badge for such
activities, until the Society for American Archaeology finally got
through to them. 

As I recall, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) for South
Carolina is part
of the Department of Archives and History (wonderful agency beloved of all
us genealogy types). This is probably your best source of information on
what protections are available to you locally in your area in SC. The
primary functions of the SHPO have to do with federal law but they become
involved in virtually every aspect of legal protections of sites and
cultural properties.

[email protected]

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