Listen to Unearthing Florida
  Week 10   Laws and Regulations Program Menu
  Program 46 NHPA (1966)
      Federal laws protecting our cultural resources have been on the books for more than a century. But a 1966 law paved the way for archaeological sites across the country to gain the prestigious status as National Historic Landmarks.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

Part of the National Historic Preservation Act established a process where government agencies, citizens, and like-minded organizations could nominate sites that “possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”

Many in Florida have gone through the rigorous evaluation process and have achieved the privilege of being named a National Historic Landmark.

These include Native American sites that you can go visit like the Fort Walton Indian Mound in Okaloosa County and the Crystal River Mound in Citrus County.  Also, a number of historic period sites earned this designation, such as the colonial mission sites of San Luis established in the 1600s in Leon County and the free black 18th Century Fort Mose in St. John’s County. 

  Program 47 Treasure Hunting
      The rise of cable television shows featuring underwater treasure hunting has raised an important ethical issue in archaeology, especially in Florida. 

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

There are state and national laws to protect archaeological sites in state and federal waters, but treasure hunting continues to be serious problem.

What really happens in the search for valuables is that the archaeological sites themselves are often seriously damaged or destroyed.  Ultimately, what’s ruined is the context, which is everything in archaeology.

Basically, an archaeological site is a time capsule, where materials, together, have meaning. When a site has been disturbed by treasure seekers, the information contained in it is greatly diminished.

As professionals, our goal, of course, is to preserve, document, and interpret sites for present and future generations.  But, the public can still enjoy the state’s shipwrecks though the Florida Maritime Heritage Trail, where they are encouraged to “take only pictures, and leave only bubbles.”

  Program 48 FHPA
      Traces of Florida’s rich maritime past are constantly being discovered, so it’s vital to have laws safeguarding historical resources that extend beyond land and into the water.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida...

The Florida Historical Resources Act provides for the protection and preservation of heritage and cultural sites and materials on state land and in state waters.

These include archaeological resources located in submerged lands beneath navigable rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and even offshore in the Gulf of Mexico up to 10 miles out and Atlantic up to 3 miles out.

Artifacts found on state-controlled property belong to the State. Therefore, it is against the law to take artifacts that are on or in submerged lands, without obtaining the proper permits.  Divers who discover underwater sites are encouraged to record the location and contact the Bureau of Archaeological Research in Tallahassee.

  Program 49 ARPA
      Archaeological resources are non-renewable; once they are gone we can never get them back! That’s why federal laws like the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, or ARPA, are so important.

I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

ARPA was passed into law over three decades ago and applies to archaeological resources located on federal or tribal lands that are at least 100 years old. It makes the excavation, removal, damage, alteration, or defacement of any significant archaeological resource illegal --without a permit granted by the federal government.

There were laws prior to the ARPA Act, but they were not strong enough. One way ARPA helps to better protect sites is by discouraging would-be looters with very stiff penalties for breaking the law. Even a misdemeanor offense can result in fines up to 10 thousand dollars and one year in prison.

While ARPA only applies to federal and tribal lands, it laid the framework for Florida to adopt similar laws to protect its archaeological resources. 

  Program 50 Unmarked Burials Law
      Cemeteries can reveal a lot of information about the past, but when they’re not clearly marked, certain legal procedures must be followed.

 I’m Dr. Judy Bense, and this is Unearthing Florida…

Archaeologists in Florida have studied unmarked graves ranging from ancient Native American to 19th century African-American cemeteries.

Florida laws protect all human remains and associated burial materials and artifacts regardless of ethnic, cultural, or religious affiliation.

Laws governing unmarked burials apply to both public and private lands.  So, whenever an unmarked grave is discovered all activity that might disturb it must cease immediately, and the district medical examiner is contacted.  If it is determined that the burial is over 75 years old, the State Archaeologist is notified and assumes jurisdiction. 

While much can be learned from burial sites, we must be sure to honor past cultures by treating their ancestors with respect.

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