Phase III Data Recovery and Emergency Projects

    When sites are determined to be significant and eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP) based on the criteria set forth by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, National Park Service (see National Register Bulletin 16A:35-51), they are afforded a status warranting protection under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966.  Most of the cultural resources which successfully complete the NHRP nomination and registration process are standing historic structures, districts of historic buildings, or other monumental structures and landscape features, largely because of a greater visible presence in a given community.  Limitations in government funding have thus far prohibited any reasonable expectation of completing the registration process for the vast number of eligible archaeological sites, a problem that the professional archaeological community is addressing through federal and state lobbying efforts.  Nevertheless, the mere identification of an archaeological site as eligible for inclusion in the NHRP has resulted in the protection of significant archaeological resources by State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) throughout the United States.

    Besides public visibility, another difference between archaeological and historic architectural resources lies in an emphasis on the value of anthropological data.  In other words, the principal importance of most archaeological sites is deemed to stem from the information provided regarding patterns of past cultural behavior rather than an inherent value in the recovered objects or artifacts.  While these items do offer the potential to create important educational displays and allow future researchers to conduct important studies of material culture, much of their value lies in the depositional context in relation to other artifacts and features which help archaeologists reconstruct past lifeways.  Given this emphasis, the destruction of an important archaeological site is mitigated if a data recovery program or Phase III archaeological evaluation records enough information so that its complete or partial destruction will not result in the loss of a significant amount of archaeological data.  Thus a Phase III data recovery program provides a viable alternative to the final disposition of an archaeological site even if it is deemed significant enough to be included in the NRHP.

    The following list provides examples of past projects where the directors of ACS engaged in successful data recovery programs of endangered sites.  The need for data recovery can arise from a number of situations other than a legitimate sequence of phased archaeological studies as mandated by a governmental regulatory review process, including emergency salvage operations where there is evidence of looting, or cases where the determination for a need of cultural resource evaluation is not made until well into the construction or development process.

- Mitigating Impact from Development: The "Old Coe Place" -
- Construction Monitoring: Creek Council House -
- Salvaging Information from Looted Sites: The Hokiahse Rockshelter -

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