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Artifact thief digs holes at South Carolina historical site

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Federal agents in South Carolina are looking for someone who used a metal detector and dug 19 holes earlier this month looking for artifacts at a historic site which was once the Charleston area plantation of a signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Rangers at the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site found the holes all over the park Nov. 13, the National Park Service said in a statement.

Some of them had discarded metal artifacts nearby and some did not, leading rangers to think a thief was using a metal detector to steal artifacts they wanted, investigators said.

The digging also caused damage to resources at the park, said Kate Funk, chief of resource management at the site.

It is both illegal to dig without permission and to have a working metal detector at a national park site, officials said.

“Archeologists make a great effort to record the context from which artifacts are recovered to better understand their use and disposition and the wider historical picture. All this important information is now lost because of this illegal excavation,” Funk said.

The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site was once the Lowcountry plantation which produced rice and indigo and was owned by the man sometimes called one of the forgotten signers of the U.S. Constitution.

The site also tells the story of how slaves were treated in South Carolina.

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