Artifact Collecting on your Texas Property

Recently, Linda Vieweg, REALTOR® and Gabe McCarty, REALTOR® procured a listing on 3977 Wilderness Rim in San Antonio’s 78261 zip code. This gorgeous and rare, a true one-story home was custom build for an engineer and home designer. At the time they were not able to find the type of home they desired on a level lot. So began the construction of this home surrounded by panoramic views of the city.

Nestled into the Xeriscaped backyard is a sitting area that overlooks the pool and spa. Certainly, the family enjoyed the memories built in this home set on 1.3 acres. Shaded by numerous oak trees the land reveals artifacts of the Native Americans who once lived in the area.

This raised the question what should I do if I find an artifact?

Referencing the Texas Historical Commission Archeology Division, we weighted that simple question. Artifacts such as pottery fragments, arrowheads or remnants of early homesteads represent a source of knowledge. For thousands of years, prehistoric groups and Native American tribes lived on the land we now call Texas. A nomadic buffalo-hunting people, called the Tonkawan roamed from somewhere around Hillsboro, Texas to the vicinity of present-day San Antonio*. Written documents record only the past 500 years, so information such as what we know about the Tonkawan is pieced together through the study of artifacts and other cultural remains.

The first thing is to verify who owns the land upon which artifacts rest. Land ownership dictates whether surface collecting of artifacts may legally take place. The presence of an archeological site(s) does not restrict the property rights of the landowner••. In fact, these sites and their contents belong to property owners to manage as they choose. Many artifacts collectors can and have worked legally on private property if they are granted permission from the owner.

The most common misconception, according to the Texas Historical Commission, is that collecting from or otherwise damaging any archaeological site on private property is illegal. No laws protecting ALL archeological site on privately owned property presently exist in Texas. The majority of Texas land is in private ownership, therefore most cultural resources are located on private property. These sites then remain under the stewardship of individual landowners.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to uncovering or collecting artifacts, however, it certainly asks an important question about owning land in Texas. Especially, land that has the potential to be culturally rich in undiscovered historical treasures.

If you would like to share an interesting story about your home, email us at PR@CBHarper.com.

 


*http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/history/mission_period/valero/indian/tonkawa.html

**http://www.thc.texas.gov/public/upload/archeology-artifact-collecting-tx.pdf