DON’T TOUCH IT! ~ Protecting Archaeological Resources in Minute Man NHP

No metal detecting symbol

Don't Touch It!

When exploring our National Parks, please keep protection of our resource in mind! This includes archaeological artifacts!

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) makes it a violation of federal law to excavate, remove, damage, otherwise alter or deface, or attempt to do so, any archeological resource located on public lands. If convicted a person could face FELONY charges and penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. Artifacts are irreplaceable parts of history and removing or damaging them takes away from what we can share with future generations. Even just picking up an artifact and putting it down in a different spot can harm the archeology of the park.

NOTE: Park staff monitor grounds using a variety of surveillance methods including cameras.


Why should you leave artifacts where you find them?

While artifacts on their own are interesting, what is more important to archeologists is the story they tell based on their location and connection to other artifacts. This is called archeological context.

An excellent example of context in Minute Man National Historical Park was discovered by trained professionals in 2016. During the Parker’s Revenge Archeological Project, archeologists discovered the location where Captain Parker’s company of Lexington Militia ambushed British Regulars during their retreat on April 19, 1775. During the survey, archeologists discovered two lines of musket balls that told an incredible story. Using technology and the context of those finds, archaeologists were able to approximate where soldiers had stood on the battlefield. If those musket balls had been removed, tampered with, or destroyed, this important battle site would be lost forever.


What to do if you find something?

So, what should you do if you find an artifact while exploring the park? Appreciate your discovery from a safe distance. It may be fragile so do not touch it. Leave the artifact where you found it and tell a park ranger. If you can, use the GPS on your phone to note the approximate location so that park staff may survey the area accurately. Congratulations, you have just helped protect our shared history.

It’s on all of us to protect our historical and natural resources. If you see anything suspicious, such as metal detecting or digging please tell a park ranger. Thank you for protecting our nation’s history and heritage!

For more information about archaeology in National Parks visit the Northeast Archeological Resources Program page!


Last updated: May 31, 2023

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North Bridge / Park Headquarters
174 Liberty St.

Concord, MA 01742


978 369-6993

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