What Archeologists Should Know


Act 753 of 1991, as amended, prohibits the desecration of human remains in unregistered cemeteries and the trade or commercial display of remains or associated burial artifacts. The Act applies to all human remains, whether on private or public property, land or water. Through Act 753, the Arkansas General Assembly intends that all human remains, regardless of ethnic origin, cultural background, religious affiliation, or date of burial or disposal should receive equal treatment and respect for human dignity.

Archeologists doing research in Arkansas should adhere to the following procedures when dealing with human burial remains:

1. Under Section 7 of Act 753, archeologists must justify projects that will encounter burials or have the potential to encounter burials by sending the State Historic Preservation Officer a copy of the research design or mitigation plan for the project. The justification must show that the archeologist has the consent of the landowner to excavate on the property and that the project archeologist is employed by the State of Arkansas, the United States government, or meets the U.S. Department of the Interior's Professional Qualification Standards found in 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part 61. The AHPP will acknowledge receipt in writing.

2. If human remains are encountered, the archeologist must notify the State Historic Preservation Officer, who will assist with the consultation process indicated in Section 7 of Act 753.

3. The disposition of any human remains must follow the procedures in Sections 8 and 9 of Act 753.

4. Scientific recovery and forensic studies should be conducted according to Appendix C of "A State Plan of the Conservation of Archeological Resources in Arkansas."

5. One copy of the final report should be filed with the Registrar of the Arkansas Archeological Survey and one with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

For more information, contact the Arkansas Archeological Survey at 2475 N. Hatch Ave., Fayetteville, AR 72704, (501) 575-3556 /https://archeology.uark.edu/ , or the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1100 North Street, Little Rock 72201, (501) 324-9880.