Treasure Hunting Laws in New York
Treasure hunting laws in New York State have been tucked away and hidden under the sections of its Education laws.
Why the laws that supposedly protect the lands of the State from archeology pilfering, as what one archeologist called it, have been buried in the education law section can only be surmised.
Can it be that the New York State archaeologists along with their friends in government purposely hid this law from the public so that unsuspecting treasure hunters, bottle diggers and outdoors lovers would unknowingly break it and get hauled into jail?
If you think I am kidding,
If you are a metal detecting enthusiast, treasure hunter, bottle digger or you enjoy picking up rocks, you better be aware of this treasure hunting law in New York.
I am writing about the law that deals with State Land in New York.
If you are going to detect on private property, you need the permission of the property owner.
State parks and local parks have their own treasure hunting laws. Most often you need a permit to detect the State parks beach areas only.
Check with your local villages and towns for their treasure hunting laws.
Section 233 of the state Education law.
The Section 233 law describes how Archaeologists have control of any artifact that lay beneath the ground on State land in New York.
What only a few years ago was modern is now termed as being “archaeological significant” in the eyes of Archaeologists.
I have paraphrased below portions of two ambiguous paragraphs in Section 233.
“The intent of this law was to protect these “publicly owned” cultural resources “both for scientific and for educational and historic purposes.”
Section 233 also states that, it protects “objects of historic interest.” And “it requires of anyone who unexpectedly discovers such objects on state lands to report it to the appropriate persons.”
Below I question this state treasure hunting law.
How does Section 233 of the Education law look when it is compared to the Federal ARPA law.
If you have not visited the page about ARPA yet,
The Antiquities Law Of 1906 states that: · No item shall be treated as an archaeological resource under regulations under this paragraph unless such item is at least 100 years of age.
However, Section 233 of NYS Education law states that, “Objects deposited on state lands that are less than 50 years old are not considered to be of “archeological interest.” Suddenly, what was modern 50 years ago has become of archaeological interest.
The questions I raise are these. If the 1906 law states the 100-year rule on antiquities, and then NYS has designed a law based on a 50-year-old antiquities interest, why was the 50-year rule established? And on what basis?
Another question I have! How can a State amend a law that has no clear definition in the first place? Looking again at the Section 233 treasure hunting law, it states, “The intent of this law was to protect these “publicly owned” cultural resources “both for scientific and for educational and historic purposes.”
Myself, as well as many others would like to have the phrase “cultural resources” clearly defined. Does this mean every single piece of history beyond 50 years of age is a cultural resource?
How can there be a 100 year rule on Antiquity one day, and then all of a sudden the rules of antiquity change to become a 50 year rule?
Who defines what antiquity is, what archaeology is, what a cultural resource is, what an object of historical significance is?
What is modern and what is not?
The only thing clear here is that the Archaeology community has been taking advantage of a set of laws that are vague in definition, and are exercising their own definitions as to what antiquity is and isn’t. And because of these generic definitions, the Archeology societies across America are forcing their will on people who pay taxes for, and use State lands for recreation.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word archaeology as the “study of ancient times from remains.” Yet the Section 233 law clearly states that objects that are of less than 50 years old is not of archaeological significance. However, an object that is 51 years old suddenly in the span of one year, according to the State Archaeologists, instantly becomes ancient and off limits to everyone but an Archaeologist.
What about Webster’s definition of archaeology, the “study of ancient times?”
Does an item that is 51 years old qualify as ancient? I don’t think so, and I honestly do not think that many people other than Archaeologists would consider 51 years old as being ancient.
As mentioned before, the problem of the definition of what is ancient and what is not is not just at the State level.
The ARPA Federal law is also ambiguous with its definition.
That law uses 100 years as a cut off for items being ancient. Again, according to Webster’s definition of archaeology, is the “study of ancient times from remains.” Does 101 years qualify as ancient? Probably not!
Section 233 of New York Sates education law was based on the ARPA law of 1906, and that first law of antiquities was the beginning of many ambiguous archaeological laws that followed in many states. All of these state treasure-hunting laws affect our rights as citizens who pay taxes to enjoy these lands.
Bill Of Rights Fourteenth Amendment
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;”
If you enjoy metal detecting, ghost towns, or you would like to get started in metal detecting, or you are a person who enjoys the outdoors,