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Mississippi Landmark Permits

By law, significant archaeological sites located on public property are Mississippi Landmarks.  These archaeological sites require a permit from the Board of Trustees prior to any work being conducted.

To work on one of these sites, you will need to submit a research design and proposal to the Chief Archaeologist 15 days prior to the permit committee meeting.

Human Remains and Burial Permits

It is the responsibility of the archaeologist to comply with all state and federal legislation (e.g., Mississippi Antiquities Law, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) concerning archaeological sites and the treatment of Native American human remains encountered during archaeological investigations.  Additionally, some agencies have internal guidelines governing the treatment of human remains (e.g., USDA Forest Service’s Human Remains Policy), and these should also be consulted when applicable.  If non-Native American human remains are discovered, then the principal investigator should immediately notify the county coroner, sheriff, and/or board of supervisors to begin consultation.  Should aboriginal human remains be discovered, archaeological activities (e.g., shovel testing, test excavations, mechanical stripping) should cease in that area.  The field archaeologist should contact the governing/contracting agency for further instruction.  In the absence of Federal involvement, if Native American burials are encountered on state, county, municipal or private land, the field archaeologist should contact MDAH-SHPO and apply for a burial excavation permit.  Burial excavation permits may also be applied for in anticipation of encountering burials.  Work may continue in the area once a burial excavation permit has been granted by MDAH-SHPO.  Encountered aboriginal human remains shall be recorded, handled, and protected according to the stipulations stated in the permit.

Under the provisions of the State Antiquities Law (39-7-31), the Board of Trustees of MDAH is given the responsibility of considering and permitting, if deemed appropriate, the excavation of prehistoric or historic Indian burials.  Specifically, 39-7-31 states:

No person without a permit from the board and without written permission of the landowner, shall intentionally injure, disfigure, remove, excavate, damage, take, dig into, or destroy any prehistoric or historic American Indian or aboriginal burial.

As stated in 39-7-3 (Declaration of Public Policy), it is the policy of the State of Mississippi and in the interest of the State to protect and preserve archaeological sites of every character.  Burials in the context of the Antiquities Law are archaeological sites.  They are, however, very special kinds of archaeological sites that are given additional legal protection by other laws.    For this reason, burials are the only type of site for which MDAH-SHPO has legal authority on private property, except for “Mississippi Landmarks” for which this authority is voluntarily given by the landowner.

In order to prevent confusion and to establish clear directives, please see the Policy on Granting Burial Excavation Permits.

To Request an Archaeological/Burial Permit:

Email the Chief Archaeologist a research design and proposal of your proposed project. Once it is received, it will be reviewed by the Archaeology and History Sites Section and submitted to the Permit Committee of the Board of Trustees for review and permitting.  The Permit Committee meets every second Thursday of each month.  If approved, you will receive a permit via mail.  Work may not proceed until a permit is received.