Sec. 460-X-9-.02 - Survey And Testing

§ 460-X-9-.02. Survey And Testing

Introduction. This policy has been developed to aid archaeologists conducting archeological intensive survey (Phase 1) or testing (Phase II) projects that are required as elements of cultural resource assessments for compliance with federal laws and regulations, including the National Historic Preservation Act (as amended); Executive order 11593; the National Environmental Policy Act of 1966; Department of the Interior regulations 36 CFR 60, 36 CFR 63, 36 CFR 66 and 36 CFR 79; and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regulations 36 CFR 800. We also request that this Policy be followed by federal agency archaeologists who are exempted from this by federal regulations. Phase II investigations shall not be initiated without consultation with the Alabama State Historic Preservation Office (ALSHPO) and the approval of a testing program. The purposes of these standards are to specify clearly and unequivocally the minimum requirements necessary to complete an archaeological survey, and to provide standardized criteria by which the State Historic Preservation Office will evaluate the archaeological segments of cultural resource assessments. The current State Historic Preservation Office for Alabama is the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC). These standards are designed for application to normal field situations likely to be encountered during intensive survey and testing projects; deviation from these standards is acceptable when dictated by circumstances, and requires only that the report contain justification of the procedures employed in that instance. Four aspects of archaeological survey standards are addressed in this document; (1) professional qualifications, (2) field work, (3) laboratory analysis and curation, and (4) reports:

(1) Professional Qualification Guidelines. It is highly recommended that applicants involved in the process required in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act hire a principal investigator who meets the minimal professional qualifications in archaeology as set forth in the Interior Secretary's (Historic Preservation) Professional Qualifications Standards for archaeology. These were first referenced in 36 CFR Part 61 and defined by the National Park Service. Cultural resource review history has demonstrated that surveys done by archaeologists who meet the Federal Standards have a greater success rate than other surveys. Further, some federal agencies require that field work be conducted by individuals who meet these standards. For example the Federal Communications Commission included such a requirement in their programmatic agreement regarding cellular towers (September 2004). The Secretary's (Historic Preservation) Professional Qualifications Standards as defined by the National Park Service for archaeologists are as follows:

"The minimal professional qualifications in archaeology are a graduate degree in archaeology, anthropology or closely related field, plus:

1. At least one year of full-time professional experience or equivalent specialized training in archaeological research, administration or management.

2. At least four months of supervised field and analytic experience in general North American archeology; and

3. Demonstrated ability to carry research to completion."

In addition to these minimum qualifications, a professional in prehistoric archeology shall have at least one year of full-time professional experience at a supervisory level in the study of archeological resources of the prehistoric period. A professional in historic archeology shall have at least one year of full-time professional experience at a supervisory level in the study of archeological resources of the historic period. Documentation (in the form of official graduate transcripts and/or a curriculum vitae) should be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office prior to the commencement of fieldwork or should accompany the survey report.

All reports submitted to the AHC are subject to peer review. All reports prepared by investigators who do not meet the standards will be circulated for peer review. The opportunity to participate in the peer review process shall be open to any person who meets the above stated criteria and who has previously notified the AHC in writing of their interest in reviewing reports. The peer review process is not intended as a substitute for the review responsibility of the AHC under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

(2) Standards for Field Work. A project's Principal Investigator assumes full responsibility for adherence to these standards for intensive survey and testing, for the accuracy of the report, and for the appropriateness of the recommendations regarding National Register eligibility. Direct field supervision by a professionally qualified archaeologist is recommended for Phase I projects. Supervision by a professional archaeologist who meets the qualifications outlined in Section (1) above is strongly recommended for Phase II & Phase III investigations. Mitigation investigations may not proceed without consultation with the ALSHPO and the development of the appropriate written agreement.

(a) Every effective archaeological survey will require field methods that appropriately address the needs of the client, the nature of the landscape, the types of sites likely to be encountered, and the overall research goals of the project director. Consequently, all projects must begin with a written "Statement of Purpose" or "Scope of Work" or "Research Design". For a previously unsurveyed tract, such a statement might simply indicate a systematic procedure for site discovery. Projects involving test excavation would normally require methods designed specifically to determine site eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places, based on the research significance of the site. Since it is impossible to anticipate every field situation, these standards should be understood to apply to normal circumstances. When field conditions require some deviation from standard procedures, then any departure from these guidelines must be described and justified in terms of the statement of purpose or research design.

(b) Every archaeological survey must include a pedestrian walk-over, a visual inspection of the survey tract, and the systematic collection of significant artifacts from the ground surface. If some portion of a tract's original land surface has been completely destroyed by modern activities (such as by strip mining or quarrying), then no further survey procedures are required in that area beyond producing written and photographic documentation of the destruction and a map indicating the location and extent of the destroyed area.

(c) In most circumstances, additional survey methods will be necessary. Under normal field conditions, systematic subsurface testing (involving either shovel tests or auger tests of consistent width or diameter) should be conducted to the depth of the subsoil, with tests that measure no less than 30 centimeters in diameter. Testing intervals should be informed by background research and based on the probability of site occurrence and the nature of prehistoric and historic sites expected in the area. Reasoning behind the spacing of shovel test intervals should be addressed in the text. In general, shovel test intervals for Phase I site identification should be no less than 10 meters and no greater than 30 meters. At least one shovel test should be conducted within the boundaries of each archaeological site that one intends to declare ineligible. All soil from these tests should be screened through mesh no larger than 1/4 inch.

(d) Survey intensity, however, may vary depending on ground cover, soil type, the probability of buried sites, the likelihood of sites occurring on different land forms, and the needs of the client. In locations where previous surveys have demonstrated a low probability of site discovery, the test interval can be extended up to but no greater than 60 meters. However, justification for shovel test intervals greater than 30 meters should be explained in detail and supported by photographs, maps, etc. Close interval testing (5 to 10 meters) is recommended for establishing site boundaries. In some instances, mechanized ground exposure methods such as plowing, fire plow, etc. may be used in addition to shovel testing to enhance ground exposure and increase the likelihood of site discovery. However, we recommend that principal investigator discuss these methods with the AHC in advance. Remote sensing survey methods (such as systematic metal detecting and ground penetrating radar) may also be useful for particular types of surveys. Screening may not always be feasible in areas with very heavy clay soils, but this must be clearly justified in the text of the report.

(e) In many areas of the state, subsoil occurs within 30 to 50 centimeters of the ground surface. But in some locations (such as flood plains and coastal zones) archaeological sites are found at much greater depths. When appropriate, this possibility must be addressed, either by deep testing or by restricting impact to the depth limits of archaeological testing.

(f) For areas of standing water (such as swamps and marshes) or where the top of the water table occurs near the ground surface, usual methods may not be feasible. If those areas will be affected by proposed impact, they should not remain unexplored. If the principal investigator's knowledge of local geomorphology and past settlement patterns suggests that sites might exist in inundated locations, then some method or archaeological survey should be applied, such as the use of geological sediment coring equipment.

(g) As a general rule, test to subsoil at 10 - 30 meter intervals and screen the soil with 1/4 inch mesh, unless field conditions dictate some variance from this standard. In any case, the project report must contain a description of all survey methods employed and a justification for using less rigorous methods.

(h) Test excavation units for Phase II projects need to meet higher standards. These units must be excavated by natural strata, if identifiable (as determined by prior shovel testing or auguring); features must be excavated separately; and all soil must be screened through 1/4 inch or smaller mesh. Other techniques commonly used by professional archaeologists may be proposed but variance will require concurrence from the AHC. Since the research significance of a site is evaluated during Phase II survey, soil flotation samples must be taken from features and/or undisturbed strata. The contents (botanical, faunal, etc.) of these soil/flotation samples must be adequately categorized to inform the determination of site significance and National Register eligibility. In Phase II investigations of prehistoric sites, 14C assays must be done when appropriate samples are present within reliable context. Individuals overseeing these analyses should specialize in their field, and have adequate experience. Vitae for specialized analysts should be provided to the AHC. Unless the archaeological site is to be preserved, partial stripping in search of intact cultural features is highly recommended prior to making the declaration that a site is not eligible. Any planned deviations from suggested methods may be justified in the research proposal.

(i) During surveys and testing projects, artifacts should be collected according to a defined sampling strategy. For instance, if modern artifacts (less than 50 years old) are not collected, the strategy needs to be explained and applied consistently. Even so, the presence of modern artifacts shall be recorded in field records. Certain kinds of sites (such as shell midden and lithic quarries) can yield massive quantities of similar artifacts that are best dealt with by sampling, rather than by total recovery. In those cases, the samples shall be representative of the assemblage from which they are drawn, and the samples shall be selected from meaningful stratigraphic units. Systematic surface collection of surface artifacts is not recommended, since this could preclude future relocation of the site. All artifacts must be bagged and labeled by separate provenience.

(j) Survey recording also must meet minimum professional standards. Daily field notes must be kept by each testing team, and they must record all survey activities and observations. Each subsurface test must be designated with a distinguishing field number and its location accurately plotted on a large scale map or aerial photograph of the survey tract. The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) for providing more precise location coordinates is strongly recommended. Each soil type encountered during a survey shall be described by soil texture and color (preferably by reference to Munsell color designation). The soil strata found in each test must be described in the field notes in terms of thickness, depth from the surface, and soil type, along with descriptions of the kinds of quantities of artifacts found and the maximum depth of recovery for artifacts.

(k) Standing structures must be placed in an archaeological context by means of the same subsurface survey and testing methods applied to other cultural features noted on the ground surface. Structures found associated with subsurface archaeological deposits must be assigned a state site number, and that number must be referenced in the corresponding cultural resources survey of standing structures conducted by an architectural historian.

(l) If human skeletal remains are discovered in the course of fieldwork, appropriate federal and state legal requirements must be addressed. Digital copies of the regulations dealing with the treatment of human remains may be obtained from the AHC at no cost.

(m) Required field photographs include: representative views of different types of terrain and ground cover located in the survey tract and at least one photograph of every standing structure. Phase I surveys should provide a photograph of each identified archaeological site. Phase II and III reports should include photographs (with scale), plan drawings to scale and profile drawings to scale for each excavation unit.

(n) Every shovel test, auger test, and test excavation unit must be refilled upon completion of the survey project unless consultation with the ALSHPO has produced an agreement to forego filling.

(3) Standards for Laboratory Analysis and Curation. Every artifact must be cleaned, labeled with permanent provenience designation (either by writing directly on the artifact or by placing artifacts in appropriate labeled containers), and listed in an inventory organized by provenience. Type identifications should correspond to local and regional descriptive and classificatory systems, unless a rationale for new types is in the project report. Artifacts requiring stabilization by a professional conservator shall receive prompt treatment. All survey collections (including artifacts, field records, laboratory records, and a copy of the final report) must be placed in an archaeological repository for permanent curation approved by the Alabama Historical Commission. Such repositories must meet Department of the Interior 36 CFR 79 guidelines for "professional, systematic and accountable curatorial services on a long-term basis". These services include storing and maintaining collections in clean, physically secure conditions with appropriate environmental controls, and providing access and facilities for study of the collections.

(a) Institutions and organizations in the state that already comply with federal guidelines, or which submit a plan and timetable to the Alabama Historical Commission for upgrading their archaeological curation facilities and demonstrate progress in meeting federal guidelines, will be permitted to retain their own newly-acquired survey collections. Other institutions, organizations and private consultants (including university personnel acting as private consultants) must either include a curation agreement in the project report (indicating where collections will be curated and when they will arrive at that repository) or reference a curation agreement filed with the Alabama Historical Commission. These curation agreements must comprehensively address the requirements outlined in 36 CFR 79. In the event that an institution, organization or private consultant is accruing a number of small collections to be curated with a contracted facility once a sufficient number have been accumulated, the report should specify the temporary location of the collection, the anticipated time frame and the intended permanent disposition. Updates should be provided to both the AHC and the intended facility. The AHC should be notified when the artifacts are ultimately submitted for permanent curation. Please note that artifacts requiring specialized conservation or storage in a controlled environment must be curated appropriately and in a timely manner.

(4) Standards for Reports. The report of an archaeological survey shall be, above all, a clear and concise presentation of project purposes, methods, results and recommendations. Do not include "boiler-plate" descriptions of the environment, prehistoric cultural sequence or historical chronology if these do not directly contribute to an interpretation of the research design or the survey results. However, each report shall contain the following sections.

(a) The title page shall begin with a report title. The title must include the project name and location (city, county, etc.). It is necessary to identify the county in which the project occurs. The title page should also specify the client's name and address; the authors name(s), the organization by whom the author(s) is (are) employed and the address of that organization. If the survey is being conducted for a Section 106 project, the title page should clearly indicate the lead agency with authority for the federal undertaking and provide the federal agency tracking number if possible. When the survey has been specifically requested by the AHC, please give the AHC tracking number provided in the reference line of our letter requesting the survey. Finally, the title page should include the date of report submission.

(b) The introduction must include the project's statement of purpose. This statement should include the proposed action and/or project description. If it is not possible to provide this information, the report must explain why. The introduction should also identify the lead agency with authority for the federal undertaking. Again if this is not possible the report must provide the reason. The introduction should outline the project's scope of work and outline a research design. A description of the survey tract by Township, Range, and Section designations is also required, along with the project's specific location accurately plotted on copies of the relevant portions of 7.5 minute USGS quadrangle maps. The project area shall be clearly defined on the map. If a copy of only a section of the quadrangle map is used, it is necessary to supply the name of the quadrangle in either the map key or in the text of report. Further, the introduction must provide the size of the area of potential effect (APE) in acres (when multiple project areas are involved, please provide a total acreage). Be aware that the potential effect of an undertaking on the APE includes the view shed when vertical elements are proposed unless specifically exempted by nationwide or statewide programmatic agreement. (This only applies to projects associated with a federal agency with which the AHC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation or the National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers has a signed programmatic agreement pertinent to view shed issues.) Finally, the introduction must identify the principal investigator for the survey, the number of people on the field crew, the names of the field crew and the number of days spent in the field. The principal investigator is advised to present documentation to the State Historic Preservation Office of his or her qualifications as a professional archaeologist prior to commencement of fieldwork.

(c) The Literature and Document Search section includes information resulting from searches of the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama State Site Survey File to identify cultural resources both in and near the survey tract. It should also summarize findings from reports listed in the National Archaeological Database for studies conducted in the area. The section should include references to all published archaeological papers or reports concerning the general or specific survey area. Other appropriate records should also be consulted, such as the Alabama Register, county histories, deeds, historic maps, insurance maps, and any other pertinent documentation. It may also be helpful to consult the Department of Transportation=s Historic Bridge Inventory, the Directory of Underground Coal Mines in Alabama, the Historic Atlas of Alabama, knowledgeable informants from the community, etc. when applicable. Finally the literature and document search section should conclude with a discussion of the relevance of this background research to the survey.

(d) In a Field Methods section, specify the personnel who conducted the field work and identify the field director; describe the physical condition of the survey tract, such as ground cover and terrain; include a description of the area surveyed; describe and justify the survey methods employed (including test depth and interval, excavation unit size, and screen mesh size, etc.), noting any deviation from the standards described here. If the spacing of shovel tests and/or transects exceeds 30 meters, please justify. Present scaled maps or vertical aerial photographs locating the walked transects, shovel tests, auger tests, test excavation units and other survey features in relation to one or more verifiable datum points. Map scale should be reasonable according to survey size so that shovel test may be plotted at an effective size. If visual inspection alone is employed as a primary alternate testing strategy, please include the transects walked by the survey crew on your map and differentiate them from those transects in which subsurface investigation was employed. Sketch prominent features of the landscape such as wooded areas, open areas, roads, streams, structures, push piles, fence lines, etc. Exceptions are made in projects covering large survey areas or long linear tracts in which transects are plotted with the number of shove tests indicated in the text. Explain the relationship between the expected direct and indirect effects of the client's proposed impact and the survey methods chosen; discuss any obstacles to your survey (e.g., standing water, soil conditions, inclement weather, etc.). When appropriate, include a map indicating disturbed areas, wet areas, areas currently under cultivation, steeply sloped areas and any other areas in which varying test methods were employed. Include a key explaining the environmental conditions which require deviation from the methods recommended by these guidelines. Describe soil profiles from shovel tests and excavation units based on visual observation. Soil survey references should not be used as stand alone descriptions. Profile descriptions should include the depth, color and texture of each stratum. Discuss artifact sampling and collection procedures.

(e) Under the heading, Laboratory Methods and Collection Curation, describe laboratory treatment of collections; indicate which state approved archaeological repository will curate the artifacts and field records resulting from the survey; and when the collection will arrive there. The analytical results of laboratory analysis, along with the provenience of each artifact should be included in the final report. It may be useful to include tables here to illustrate the findings. If necessary, attach a copy of a curation agreement to document the ultimate disposition of the collection.

(f) In the Results portion of the report, summarize oral history interviews and studies of private collections; discuss all of the cultural resources revisited or discovered in the course of the survey; provide maps, profile drawings, and photographs of test excavation unit stratification and features; include artifact descriptions, photographs, line drawings, and inventories; and provide site descriptions, with permanent site numbers assigned, and captioned site photographs. Copies of State Archaeological Site forms will be appended for each new site located during the investigations. If the survey requires the revisiting of a previously recorded site, the investigator will prepare a statement of the conditions of the site. An amended site form shall be attached if there are significant changes noted at the site or additional information is produced. Though it is not required the AHC suggests that the archaeologist attempt to visit any recorded sites near a survey area and assist in the continuing assessment and protection process.

(g) A section on Survey Interpretation and Evaluation must include a summary of site interpretations; a discussion of the research significance of each site, based on site integrity and the archaeological data likely to be recovered; and evaluations of site eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places, according to criteria A, B, C, or D. This evaluation is a recommendation to the AHC and does not constitute a Determination of Eligibility.

(h) The final required section concerns Recommendations, including a discussion of known or potential impact and specific recommendations for further archaeology. The client's development plans must be clearly summarized here to provide a context for evaluating the appropriateness of the archaeological recommendations. If sites found during survey are determined not eligible for nomination to the National Register and the AHC subsequently agrees with this determination, then no further work will be recommended. If eligibility cannot be determined from a Phase I intensive survey, then a recommendation for further work in the form of Phase II testing is appropriate. Phase II work cannot begin without the recommendations and concurrence of the ALSHPO. For sites determined eligible, recommendations can include "Avoidance", "Protection/Stabilization", or "Data Recovery" to mitigate adverse effects on the archaeological resources. At the option of the client or applicant, if eligibility cannot be determined from a Phase I intensive survey, then in lieu of a recommendation for further work in the form of Phase II testing, said client or applicant can recommend the following other options for the site to mitigate adverse effects on the archaeological resources: "avoidance," "Protection/Stabilization," or "additional investigation."

(i) Additional sections which should be appended to the report include items such as lists of references cited, artifact tabulations, and state site forms. It should be noted here that appending raw data tables does not substitute for summary tables in the body of the report. Such tables should be incorporated in appropriate places such as the discussion of features, artifact analysis, etc.

(5) Upon acceptance of the report by the client, the client or applicant is responsible for forwarding at least two (2) copies of the report to the AHC. A copy will be forwarded by the AHC to the Alabama State Site File at Moundville at quarterly intervals. All survey and testing reports may be subject to external peer review. All reports submitted by individuals not meeting the criteria outlined in Section (1). will be circulated for peer review. Phase II, Phase III and other major Cultural Resource Assessment documents may also be considered for peer review.

Author: Jim Parker; Stacye Hathorn

(New Rule: Filed April 18, 1997; effective May 23, 1997. Amended: Filed May 10, 2006; effective June 14, 2006.)

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala 1975, §§ 41-9-241, 41-9-249, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-665 ; 16 U.S.C. 470); 36 CFR 800, 36 CFR 61.

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