In Massachusetts, it is a crime to cause any adverse effects on sites of historical significance. According to the state legislature, if you are caught doing so, you could be charged with the misdemeanor offense of an archeological violation.
Contrary to what the name of the law may seem to indicate, archeologists attempting to excavate without permits are not the only ones who have to worry about this penalty. Any kind of project that compromises historic sites could potentially land you with an archeological violation if you are not careful.
What you are expected to report
Regardless of whether you are working independently, as a corporation or as any kind of state authority, you must report and historical objects or sites of paleontological or archeological significance to the state archeologist. Imagine you have purchased a property and are clearing out a lot to build a structure, and you discover some dinosaur fossils. It could be a crime for you to not report this to the state archeologist and just continue your project.
If you are just exploring the forest and you find some native American artifacts, and decide to start digging them up, you could be subject to an archeological violation as well. This is because it may be viewed as starting an excavation without a permit.
Getting a permit
If you wish to get an archeological permit, you must be prepared to provide the state archeologist a summary of your activity with photographs, drawings, documents and maps. In order to get a permit, the state archeologist must deem you qualified to conduct archeological activities on a site, and your intention must be to disseminate any knowledge you gain through your excavation or exploration.