Quantcast Chapter 6. Archeology

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6.1 INTRODUCTION.  Of all the different kinds of cultural
resources, the hardest ones to recognize and deal with are
archeological sites.  One reason is that there are so many of
them.  After all, people have been living in North America for at
least 12,000 years.  The traces they have left behind are what
archeology is all about.
Then too, archeological sites can be almost anywhere and look
like almost anything.  They may be underground or under water,
tucked away in caves or shell middens, lying in farmers' fields
or backyard gardens, as well as in cemeteries, sewers, or
hazardous waste sites.  They may contain artifacts such as
arrowheads or Civil War bullets strewn about at ground level or
buried deep inside old privies or wells.  On the surface, they
may seem to be nothing more than a few random stones or a couple
of old postholes filled with dark soil.  Occasionally, as with
some sites that are important in American Indian religious
beliefs or tribal customs, they may contain nothing that can be
seen or touched at all.  They are frequently located in isolated
places.  Often, however, they are in places that somebody wants
to use for a very good modern purpose that has nothing to do with
the archeology or history of the site, such as a sewer line, a
road, a hangar, or a gunnery range.
An archeological site is any area that contains information
about our history (the period for which written records have been
kept) or prehistory (the time before written records exist in a
particular culture, such as early Native American settlements).
Since there are so many of them, not all archeological sites can
be considered important enough to list in the National Register
of Historic Places or to require special treatment.  The
archeological significance of the site depends on how much
information it is likely to yield and how important the
information is likely to be.  Although the information is about
the past, it may be used to benefit the present or even the
future, as with the study of various human diseases or the
evolution of plants or animals.
6.2 POLICY, REGULATION AND OBJECTIVES.  Like historic buildings
and other cultural properties, archeological sites are protected
under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  The
Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA), Public Law
96-95, made it a federal crime to remove archeological artifacts
from sites on public lands without a permit.  It is also illegal
to buy, sell, or receive such artifacts.


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