Report finding an archaeological artifact or human remains

Every year in B.C. archaeological artifacts and sites are discovered by people out hiking, digging in their garden, doing home renovations, developing property, or working on the land base.

Last updated: January 7, 2021

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Please do not disturb any archaeological finds or remains that you may encounter. Instead, follow the instructions outlined below according to what you think you may have found.

Protecting archaeological sites

Archaeological sites on both public and private land are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act, whether they are known or not, and must not be altered without a permit.

There are more than 50,000 archaeological sites currently recorded in B.C. with many more being added to the provincial inventory every year. This new archaeological information makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of our province and prevents the destruction of cultural and non-renewable resources.

Please note, a permit is required before you may alter a site or burial place of historical or archaeological value, human remains or associated heritage objects in any way.

Recognizing a possible site

Physical evidence of B.C.’s original inhabitants are represented in today’s landscape by a wide variety of archaeological site types. Most sites show evidence of art, habitations, resource gathering and production, tool making, and traditional ceremonial or ritual activities, such as:

  • Rock art, including pictographs and petroglyphs
  • Surface features such as depressions created by former habitations, earthen fortifications, rock cairns, fish traps and clam gardens
  • Stone, bone, antler, wood or shell artifacts that have become visible on the land surface owing to erosion or recent land altering activity
  • Buried cultural or human remains that may be sighted in a cutbank, excavation, eroded shoreline, or other exposed deposit

How to report finding an archaeological site, artifact, or human remains

Report finding possible sites or artifacts

If you think you have discovered an archaeological site or artifact, please contact us via one of the methods listed in the Contact Information box, located on the right-hand side of this page. You may also want to contact the archaeology or anthropology department of your closest university or college, as they may be able to give you some insights into what you have found. Additionally, you may want to contact a professional consulting archaeologist

Report finding possible human remains

If you think you have discovered human remains, please contact us immediately and do not disturb the remains. We'll notify the Coroner's Office and the local policing authority. The Coroner's Office will determine if human remains are of archaeological significance. We may also arrange for a qualified anthropologist or archaeologist to provide an assessment of the remains.

If the remains are of archaeological significance, we'll attempt to dispose of them in a culturally appropriate manner. Generally, if remains are still buried and are under no immediate threat of further disturbance, they will not be excavated or removed. If the remains have been partially or completely removed, we'll facilitate disposition.

If a cultural affiliation for the remains can be determined, we'll contact an organization representing that cultural group or First Nation.

Archaeological sites on crown land

If you find archaeological human remains during the course of a permitted project, contact us. We'll help to ensure remains are handled in accordance with the methods specified in the permit and respect the expressed wishes of the cultural group represented, to the extent that these may be known or feasible.

Please see our Archaeological Sites on Crown land page for more information.