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Buried Treasure and Dinosaur Bones…Can You Dig It?

Most contractors don't begin a project thinking about the possibility of finding century-old artifacts or unearthing fossilized dinosaur remains. But, there have been instances where our early ancestors and nature have left a surprise or two just waiting to be unearthed.

Here's just a small sample of the unique and interesting items found during remodeling and construction jobs.

  • While constructing the former World Trade Center (NYC), workers unearthed a 1773 era cargo ship buried 20 feet underground  Daily Mail.
  • Unidentified bones found under a parking lot shocked the world when the DNA results came back.
    The bones belonged to King Richard III of Leicester, England
  • A contractor in Cleveland found cash totaling almost $500,000 while remodeling a customers bathroom. A previous owner stashed his fortune in the walls in the 1930s.
  • A Triceratops Skeleton was found during a construction project in Thornton Colorado. CBS Denver
  • A Phoenix couple remodeling the bathroom in a "fixer upper" found a safe code in the back of a medicine cabinet but did not know where the safe was located. When removing a kitchen island they found the hidden safe, used the code to open it and discovered $51,080.00 and a bottle of bourbon from 1960.  Redbook
  • 16th Century Queen Catherine De Medici’s Hair Pin was found in a public toilet. Listverse

If you are among those lucky enough to discover such treasures, be aware that "Finders Keepers" may not always apply. Each State or local municipality may have it's own rules and regulations.

In the U.S., builders are obligated to report archaeological finds if the project requires a federal, state, or occasionally local permit, license or funding that triggered compliance with historic preservation laws, according to Cris Kimbrough, Ph.D., PMP, and archaeologist and Managing Director at CBRE Telecom Advisory Services.

There are few rules governing artifacts that are encountered on private land because U.S. law is very much focused on the protection of private property. As a consequence, artifacts located in areas where no historic preservation rules are in place are at risk. This does not apply to human remains, however. Human remains always have to be reported to the local authorities and treated appropriately. Equipment World


If you find a dinosaur in your backyard, It's all yours! You can do with it what you please, donate it to your local museum or sell it and put your kids through college!

Montana’s Hell Creek formation is one of the premiere dinosaur-hunting grounds in the United States, and though much of the dino-laden land is secured as federal or state property, not all of it is. And that, says the New York Times, is the key: “unlike many countries that carefully control dinosaur fossils found on public and private lands, the United States restricts the collecting of fossils only on public lands. Fossils found on private land… belong to the landowner.”

While it's highly unlikely, should you be fortunate enough to find buried treasure on your next job, you would be wise to check with your State and local government regarding historic and archaeological finds.

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