The South Carolina Heritage Trust Program: Fifteen Years of Archaeological Site Acquisition and Management
Without sites there are no artefacts. Lacking artefacts there can be no archaeological data. In the absence of archaeological data there is no explanation. Without explanation we are left with unanswered questions. Therefore it is of vital importance that archaeological sites remain intact and preserved in the ground for the future when funding, techniques, and committed professional researchers are available to study these sites carefully and to answer questions about them. It is critical that the artefacts and other information at sites should be left at the sites. Artefacts, ecofacts (pollen, animal bones, and carbonised seeds), and features (posts, fi re pits, trash pits) form the database that allows archaeologists to answer questions about the past. Often the nonprofessional search for artefacts destroys ecofacts and features and the undisturbed context of those entities. Each year more and more sites are lost to development. Some of these sites are studied in a limited manner, but the vast majority receive absolutely no investigation. There are 23,576 known sites in the state of South Carolina and about forty archaeologists. That means 589 sites in the state per archaeologist. Professional archaeologists must enlist the public in protecting sites from destruction (McManamon 1991, 2000; Sabloff 1996; Smith 1993, see also chapters 1, 12, 15, and 16). There are many ways to enlist this protection and one important programme dedicated to site preservation through the purchase of land, the South Carolina Heritage Trust Program.