Artifact Amnesty Survey
The Board of the Florida Archaeological Council met August 20, 2015 and voted unanimously to oppose the proposed artifact amnesty program. We are currently composing a letter to DHR outlining our concerns. In the meantime, we want to encourage you each to complete the questionnaire distributed by Florida Department of State by the September 4 deadline. The number of responses is being tracked by DOS and will influence the ultimate decision made by the State of Florida, so your input is vital.
The Florida Division of Historical Resources, following a mandate introduced at the very end of this year’s legislative session, has posted a survey to study the feasibility of having a time-limited Artifact Amnesty program for artifacts taken from State Lands and State-Submerged Lands without a permit. The background for this action, as we understand it, is that a a few Florida citizens are concerned about the severe consequences if they are caught with artifacts collected in violation of Florida Statutes Chapter 267. The consequences came to the public’s attention after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) successfully prosecuted numerous individuals for collecting prehistoric Native American artifacts from Florida rivers. There has also been mention of linking this proposed amnesty program to reinstatement of the failed and discontinued isolated finds program, so that collecting Native American artifacts in Florida rivers would be legal again. Some advocates would even like to make hobbyist collecting on all state lands legal. The FAC Board believes that, as representatives of professional archaeologists across the state, we must oppose these moves in order to insure the continued preservation and wise-management of archaeological sites on state lands and state submerged lands.
Dr. William Lees, Executive Director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, has crafted an excellent statement on behalf of FPAN, which I attach here for your information with his permission. Alternatively, you can visit the FPAN web page. Please read this material and give some thought to your answers, especially to question 6, before you complete the survey.
The DHR survey, entitled “Artifact Amnesty Feasibility Study Questions, August 2015,” may be found at:
It is open to anyone, and may be taken only once per e-mail address. The questions in the survey are:
1.Did you know that it is illegal to remove, without authorization, any specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
2. Do you think it should be illegal to remove, without authorization, any specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
3. Do you support the implementation of a one-time amnesty program of limited duration for persons who possess specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value collected from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority?
4. If you were in possession of any specimens, objects or materials of historical or archaeological value from land owned or controlled by the state or on land owned by a water authority, would you return them during an amnesty program?
5. Do you think other people would participate in an amnesty program?
6. Please list the positive and/or negative impacts you feel that an amnesty program could potentially have on the stakeholders and historic resources
of the state.