Archaeology in Rhode Island The Rhode Island Preservation and Heritage Commission is dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Rhode Island's archaeological resources. Our responsibilities include maintaining records of all known archaeological sites in the state, which currently number over 2800. We work with other state agencies to protect archaeological sites on state lands and beneath state waters, monitor all archaeological explorations within those jurisdictions, and review and permit all archaeological projects within the state that require funding or permits from state and/or federal agencies. For more information about the RIHPHC archaeology program, contact Charlotte Taylor (401-222-4140). Schooner-barge wreck at Green Jacket Shoal, East Providence (©Glenn Anderson). Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc. field crew excavating at the colonial-era Dr. Reuben Mason House in Glocester (©AHS). Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project team investigating a shipwreck on Greene Island, Warwick (J. McNamara, ©RIMAP 2020) Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. field crew excavating a nineteenth-century house foundation in Chepachet Village, Glocester (©PAL). An archaeologist shows a stone axe head from a deeply stratified Native American site on Block Island (©PAL). Archaeological investigations of the South Kingstown Society of Friends Meeting House Site by students of Rhode Island College (©RIHPHC). Archaeologists from Gray and Pape, Inc. conducting a survey in the forests of Burrillville (©Gray and Pape, Inc.). Prev Next Slide 1 Slide 2 Slide 3 Slide 4 Slide 5 Slide 6 Slide 7 FAQs: May I... ...legally collect artifacts from archaeological sites in Rhode Island? The answer is circumstantial. Artifacts from archaeological sites in Rhode Island generally belong to the owners of properties on which they are found, though burial items and human remains are typically excluded. Artifacts from archaeological sites, both terrestrial and submerged, under state and federal jurisdiction are almost always protected by law. Though some private landowners may allow artifact collectors to search their properties, the RIHPHC discourages such arrangements primarily because they undermine the conservation of archaeological sites as non-renewable resources. ...metal detect on state property? Consistent with the Antiquities Act of Rhode Island (RIGL 42-45.1 et seq.), the RIHPHC maintains that a state archaeological permit is prerequisite to removing artifacts from archaeologically sensitive, or potentially archaeologically sensitive, state properties, and does not issue such permits to recreational artifact collectors including those who use metal detecting technology. The RIHPHC generally excludes the mobile sands along state beaches from its archaeological permitting authority because they are of low archaeological sensitivity. ...report an archaeological site to RIHPHC? Yes. Visit the the Staff Directory to contact the RIHPHC staff archaeologist. ...access the state's archaeological site records? Archaeological site locations are generally considered confidential and public access to such information is restricted by federal laws including: Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 9(a) of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act Though a member of the public may submit a request to access a specific archeological site record, its information content would likely be redacted by RIHPHC prior to transmittal in compliance with the above cited laws.