The issue of people collecting archaeological artifacts from State of Florida lands (including submerged lands) has a long history. Click here to learn about the issue and FPAN's response.
The Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, is a statewide network with regional centers dedicated to public outreach and assisting local governments and the Florida Division of Historical Resources, in order to promote the stewardship and protection of Florida’s archaeological resources. Through creating and developing partnerships, FPAN strives to engage many publics with Florida’s rich archaeological history. FPAN does not conduct large-scale field research projects nor is FPAN a CRM company. FPAN was created during the 2004 legislative session as part of the Florida Historical Resources Act and is funded through the Florida Legislature.
There are many volunteer opportunities through FPAN. Depending on the season, opportunities include, but are not limited to, assisting with public events, giving introductory archaeology lectures to school-age children, helping with archaeology field trips, and participating in lab work. In addition to volunteering with FPAN, we can also identify other volunteer opportunities with partner organizations. Please contact the regional center in your area for details.
Archaeologists do not appraise artifacts. Artifacts are nonrenewable resources that provide a window into understanding past cultures and life ways. The information and knowledge that can be gained about our past is priceless.
FPAN does not do archaeological contract work. Contact a Cultural Resource Management firm to ask about hiring an archaeologist for permit compliance.
The field of archaeology is concerned with learning about past peoples and cultures by examining the things that have been left behind. Archaeology is a subfield of Anthropology. As anthropologists, we study humankind. We do not study dinosaurs, fossils, or rocks and minerals. Please contact a paleontologist for questions about dinosaurs and other fossils, or a geologist for questions about rocks and minerals.
The Florida Museum of Natural History's Division of Vertebrate Paleontology offers a Fossil Identification Service website for more information.
Although FPAN archaeologists do occasionally visit classrooms, it is not possible for us to fulfill every request. In order to more effectively serve all schools in our regions, FPAN focuses on teaching educators how to bring archaeology into the classroom through offering workshops and trainings, sharing resources, and providing guidance for presentations and activities.
Although FPAN does not perform large-scale excavations, we can help you find out more about your site and, most importantly, help you find ways to best protect it. Contact your regional center for assistance.
FPAN is dedicated to assisting and partnering with a variety of entities in order to educate the public and instill stewardship of the past. Below are a few examples:
On State or Federal lands, it is not lawful to collect or remove artifacts. The Isolated Finds Policy in Florida has been discontinued and does not allow individuals to keep artifacts discovered in Florida’s rivers. If you do find an artifact, the best thing to do is leave it in place, record the approximate location on a map, take a photo with a well-known object (like a coin) as a scale, and contact your regional FPAN office which can help you properly report the find.
Laws regarding metal detecting in Florida are rather confusing —we always encourage anyone interested in metal detecting to always get the permission of the land owner or manager before detecting - that will prevent misunderstandings about what is permitted, trespassing, etc. Most cities and counties have their own ordinances regarding metal detecting - the City Manager, County Commission, or the Parks/Recreation Department can probably tell you. Most coastal cities and counties in Florida do allow metal detecting on their beaches, although some, like St. Johns County, have ordinances that prohibit the removal of historical objects from county lands. They’re all a little different, so that’s why we suggest contacting them directly.
Detecting on state lands is different and the removal of historical objects from state lands is prohibited. Some coastal state parks do not allow metal detecting at all, some will allow it between the shoreward toe of the dunes and the mean high water line, but only for modern objects. Some state parks will only allow detecting for personal items that are specified as lost in a particular area. If counties or cities lease coastal lands from the state, they are required to abide by state laws. Every state park will have an entry station with a ranger on duty, so always ask first.
As for metal detecting in the water, all lands that are below the mean high water line are considered state sovereignty submerged lands and, while it is not against the law to possess a metal detector in the water, it IS against the law to disturb the bottom sediments. So, if something is detected, it would be illegal to dig for it.
Sure! FPAN offers Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT), which is a full day of learning about cemetery management, recording, and proper cleaning techniques. But if you can't attend a CRPT and need some tips and techniques for cleaning headstones and markers, check out this Northeast Region blog post. The cleaning fluid D2 can be ordered from Lime Works - it's a bit expensive, but can be cut 1 to 1 with water so it goes a long way and stores for years.