The Missouri Archaeological Society supports responsible artifact collecting.
If you surface-collect artifacts, keep them separated by site. These archaeological sites can then be registered with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), MoDNR. Site locations are confidential. The SHPO will send you the site number to keep with the artifacts, or better yet, the artifacts can be labeled with the site number. These will still be your artifacts, but you will have done what is ethical and responsible to contribute to the archaeological record of Missouri.
An artifact out of context does not give the information needed. For this reason, archaeologists ask people to refrain from digging for artifacts.
Information comes not only from the artifacts, but from the context in which they are found. The association of an artifact with other stone tools and food remains, its depth below the surface, and the type, chemistry, and color of the soil surrounding it are some of the things archaeologists need to know.
Most people do not realize that they are contributing to the destruction of archaeological sites when they dig to "see what's there" in caves or elsewhere. These are non-renewable resources; once destroyed, they are gone forever.
Another thing collectors should be aware of is the Unmarked Burial Law. Reporting and disposition of human remains from unmarked burials are treated under Chapter 194, Missouri State Statutes , as revised. Chapter 194 outlines the process and procedures to be followed, and identifies those charged with responsibility for its implementation. According to provisions of Section 194.410, any person or entity who knowingly disturbs, destroys, vandalizes, or damages a marked or unmarked human burial site commits a class D felony.
To report an unmarked burial in Missouri, call (573) 751–7958.
To the Point
"To the Point" is a regular feature in the MAS Quarterly. To see excerpts from past editions, click on one of the following PDFs.
An Additional Point Resource
Visit the Ohio Historic Society's Web page, What's the Point?: Identifying Flint Artifacts, for more identification information.