Phase II Intensive Archaeological Surveys


    While a Phase I archaeological reconnaissance survey is designed to merely document the presence of any prehistoric or historic sites in a project area that is slated for some form of development, the Phase II intensive archaeological survey is designed to document the context, integrity, and significance of each site.  Context refers to the environmental setting of each site, including a more precise definition of site boundaries in horizontal and vertical space, and its depositional or stratigraphic disposition.  It also refers to the functional and chronological nature of each site as determined by an analysis of artifacts, features, and structures.  Integrity refers to the preservation state of each site, including disruptions to the stratigraphy, features, and/or depositional setting of artifacts by any natural or cultural forces.


    A determination of significance for a site is based on guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, in the National Register Bulletin 16A (pages 35-51).  These guidelines consist of criteria for determining the eligibility of a site's nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and broadly relate to its demonstrated "association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, association with the lives of persons significant in our past, embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or its potential to yield information important in prehistory or history."  The last criterion is the one most applicable to the majority of archaeological sites eligible for the register, and relates to potentially valuable or unique cultural information as determined in the Phase II survey.     


    Inclusion of a site into the NRHP ultimately results in the preservation or protection of significant cultural resources.  Alternative recommendations for each site investigated during a Phase II survey may include "no threat to significant resources" in the event that a site is deemed to not be significant, in situ preservation by avoidance or project alteration, site acquisition with preservation restrictions, site preservation by inclusion in open space or limited-use areas, minimization of effect through engineering or construction method changes, site documentation and subsequent burial, and/or data recovery.  The Phase III mitigation or data recovery programs are generally the last phase in the cultural resource management sequence of archaeological investigations, and are generally reserved for those cases where a significant site can not be reasonably avoided or preserved by the proposed development.


    It should be noted that the majority of sites evaluated during a Phase II survey do not require Phase III mitigation given the alternatives listed above.  Many of the sites evaluated during Phase II surveys were initially identified through Phase I surveys where a significant stratification of subsurface testing occurred in order to maximize the efficiency of the survey and minimize the cost to the client.  The list below provides examples of Phase II intensive archaeological surveys performed by ACS, particularly those which have yielded an array of cultural resources and site data that have helped to document patterns of past cultural systems.


- Prehistoric Structural Remains and Features: The Larson Farm -
- Documenting Inter-Site Functional and Chronological Variability: Troutbrook Valley -

- Lithic Scatters and Historic Foundations: Brookfield -

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