Get a permit from your office to do archaeology and paleontology work in Colorado?
Our office issues permits to do fieldwork in archaeology and paleontology on state, county, city and some private lands in Colorado, NOT on federal or tribal lands. Permit applications are available online from our web site. The permit rules, terms and conditions including minimum qualifications are spelled out in the state regulations. There is no fee involved; however, state law now requires all permit applicants to submit a signed Affidavit of Lawful Presence form along with the application form and other required documentation.
Find out about PAAC (Program for Avocational Archaeological Certification)?
There is an abundance of information about PAAC-including the current schedule of courses, fees, fieldwork opportunities, etc.-on our web site. Currently, the program consists of 13 courses taught in 13 Colorado communities. Each course schedule covers a six-month period. Field training projects are limited to the summer months.
Find out what archaeological, paleontological or historical sites are open to the public?
Our office maintains a list archaeological, paleontological and historic mining sites open to the public. In addition, History Colorado maintains 12 museums and historic sites throughout the state. Call 303-866-3682 or visit History Colorado's web site for additional information.
Find out about the Colorado Archaeological Society (CAS)?
CAS is a private organization with local chapters in ten Colorado communities. Membership in CAS entails access to many activities, as well as a subscription to their quarterly archaeology journal Southwestern Lore. For additional information visit their web site.
The age of arrowheads and spear points can only be approximated, unless they are well-documented in a precisely dated archaeological context. Many projectile point styles persisted for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and were used by a number of different cultural groups. From an ethical standpoint, archaeologists discourage the hobby of "arrowhead collecting" as an irreplaceable loss of scientific data because, in most cases, the precise location of each find is not recorded.
The collection of any prehistoric or historic artifacts from public lands (federal, tribal, state, county or city) is prohibited except by qualified archaeologists working under the terms of a current permit. Collecting on private land is, technically, legal with the landowner's permission but is discouraged. Also, collecting artifacts of any kind found in association with human remains is forbidden, regardless of land ownership. In keeping with this preservation philosophy, no appraisals of artifacts' monetary value is available from History Colorado. While collecting artifacts is discouraged, the opposite is true when it comes to learning about our cultural heritage. To satisfy your urge to know more about archaeology, consider attending PAAC courses and/or reading one of the many fine books on the subject. Bibliographies on the subjects covered in all 13 PAAC courses are available on our web site.
If you are a teacher in the Denver Public School system, please contact Community Resources Inc. (303-782-0975) whose staff arranges such talks with us. For all other requests, call our office at 303-866-4671 or 3392. We also maintain a speaker's list of individuals who are willing to speak on various topics.
Find out what I should do with some dinosaur bones I found?
Contact a paleontologist. The study of fossils-bones of animals such as dinosaurs, plant remains such as wood or leaves, and traces like footprints and burrows-is in the realm of paleontology. Archaeology, by contrast, is the study of the material remains of people which, in Colorado, are generally not fossilized. Our office maintains a list of paleontologists in the Directory of Cultural Resource Management Agencies, Consultants and Personnel for Colorado.
Find out what I should do with some human bones I found?
If you haven't already done so, please contact the local police/sheriff immediately. Our office gets involved only when the bones are in an unmarked location, and when the coroner has determined that the remains are human, of no forensic value, and likely to be more than 100 years old. Please do not move or otherwise disturb the bones you have found. See the relevant provisions of state law for details. Remains in marked cemeteries also are protected under Colorado law (see question below). Please see our Unmarked Graves page for more information.
Find out what I should do with an artifact I found?
Call our office 303-866-4671 or 3392 or send us an e-mail. It's best to leave the item exactly where you found it so that, if necessary, the item's exact location can be documented by an archaeologist. Making a drawing of the artifact, and/or a good close-up photograph, will aid in its identification and evaluation.
Save an Indian sacred site that is threatened by development?
Through the power of persuasion. If it is on Federal land, the land manager might be swayed by comments received through a public planning process, especially if the comments are couched in terms of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Our office has a commenting role under the National Historic Preservation Act. The property must be evaluated on its historic merit, not only on its spiritual importance. For state, local, or private lands, use the public review process established by whichever government agency may have some development oversight.
Save a cemetery that is threatened by development? Is it protected?
All cemeteries and marked graves are protected under Colorado law, which is enforced at the local level. See your municipal or county government. Vandalism or willful damage should be prosecuted. There is, however, a complex procedure that local governments may follow to lawfully move cemeteries. This process is outlined in the Department of Health code in the state law books.
The Office of the State Archaeologist becomes involved only for unmarked human graves for which there is no evidence of the person's identity, and which apparently date from over 100 years ago (see question above).
Contact the proper authorities if I see someone disturbing an archaeological or historical site?
If you are a witness to such activity, compile a description of the individual(s) and the vehicle(s) [from a safe distance only, they may be dangerous, then call the local sheriff or police department. Get a license number of the vehicle, if possible. If the activity is on federal land, report it by calling 1-800-722-3998.