Not all of Harrison's clients are thrilled to find that out. Very few have asked to keep the artifacts she unearths, though they're technically their property. Some are intrigued at first, then lose interest; some get downright uneasy. "People like to think that they're the first to live in a place," she says.
Besides, there are practical considerations. Most of Harrison's digs are prompted by development plans; federal and state laws require archeological investigations on public and some private lands ahead of things like road-building or wetland-filling. But no law demands that archeological sites, once found, be protected. (Burial sites are the exception; they may not be dug up or disturbed in any way.) Once the dig is done and the paperwork complete, it's up to landowners to decide what to do about the history in their backyards. Usually, that happens when the bulldozers are already waiting to move in. "And down time for something like that," Harrison notes, "can be very expensive." CP