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Frequently Asked Questions About Artifacts

Can I collect artifacts I find in New Mexico?

Federal law protects archeological sites and artifacts on federal lands. Historic artifacts (greater than 50 years old) are also protected. These include artifacts found at mine sites. You may not dig, collect/remove artifacts, use metal detectors, or deface rock images on federally managed lands. Archaeological remains and artifacts are fragile and nonrenewable, meaning once they are gone, they can never be replaced. Help your public land managers care for our shared human history by leaving artifacts and rock images in the locations and conditions in which they are found.

Any collection of artifacts on private land requires permission from the landowner.

What do you do if you find an archaeological site, artifacts, rock art, or other cultural sites/items on public lands?

To help protect archaeological and historical resources that you find, please contact the managing public land agency to report your find.  Getting snapshots of what you found, along with information on the location of where it is (GPS points, topo map locations, etc.), can be extremely helpful ! This information allows historians and archaeologists to visit the site and document it properly. Your find could help us all learn more about how humans lived in the past, and how they interacted with their landscapes.

Please do not touch petroglyphs, pictographs, or historic inscriptions. Oils from your skin will damage them.

Here is a list of links about artifacts from the three major federal land management agencies:

See also: