SOP 5: Excavation and Archaeology

The purpose of archaeological investigation, is to identify, and if possible preserve archaeological resources on University property, as well as to avoid unintentional destruction of resources. This procedure defines various undertakings that will initiate an archaeological investigation, and outlines steps that are to be taken in such an investigation. Archaeological investigation is to be initiated in the case of land-disturbing activity or timber harvesting. These two undertakings lead to different steps in archaeological investigation.

Land-disturbing activity is defined here following elements of the 1991 Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA) Guidelines, the 2011 Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Protection Division (HPD) Timber Harvest Archaeology Protocol A land disturbing activity is one that:

  • Involves scraping, plowing, clearing, dredging, grading, soil compression, excavating, transporting or filling of land that affects an area of greater than 100 total square feet (with the exception of cultivation).
  • Involves the placement of any structure or impervious surface, or dam.
  • Timber harvesting of more than five acres of land.

Should a land-disturbing activity be planned, the first step is to notify the Campus Preservation Officer (CPO), who will review the Georgia Archaeological Site File records for the property to determine whether or not the location has been previously assessed by an archaeologist. If it has, and no significant archaeological sites have been documented, no further archaeological work will be required. If it has, and significant archaeological sites have been documented at that location, then the CPO will aid in reconfiguration of the planned undertaking to avoid the archaeological site, or develop and oversee archaeological testing of the site.

If no archaeological survey has been done on the location, the CPO will engage an archaeologist to direct, perform, assess, and report on the archaeological investigation. The archaeologist should meet the Secretary of Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards (36 CFR 61 and Federal Register 48:44739).

If no significant archaeological sites are encountered in the survey, then no further archaeological work will be required. If the archaeologist identifies a potentially significant archaeological site, this site should be avoided, or its significance should be tested through more thorough investigation.

If a potentially significant archaeological site is to be avoided, the CPO will assist in the development of a plan to avoid the site and ensure its implementation.

Following a Phase I survey, GNAHRGIS records will be updated to include the surveyed area and the results of the survey.

Archaeological testing for significance is a process that determines if a site has sufficient integrity and value to warrant preservation or study. A plan to test the site must be developed by a qualified archaeologist. This plan must be reviewed and approved by the CPO as well as the Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Though each significance test of a site is unique and designed to meet the characteristics of the individual site, certain standards apply, and are detailed in the Georgia Council of Professional Archeologists (GCPA) guideline in section III.E. The results of the test, along with the treatment and curation of any artifacts collected should be compiled into a report that meets the guidelines for such a report in the GCPA guideline in section V. This report will include a section that fully assesses the significance of archaeological site.

If the site is found not to warrant preservation or study, then no further archaeological work will be required. If the site is found by the archaeologist to be significant, and the CPO and the Georgia SHPO concur, then the site should be avoided, or a plan to mitigate the effect on the site by the undertaking must be developed and implemented. Such a plan must be developed by the archaeologist in consultation with the Campus Preservation Officer and the Georgia SHPO to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

All documents produced and artifacts collected should be curated at the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology according to their guidelines. All archaeological investigations must be recorded on Georgia Archaeological Site File to avoid duplication.

Should inadvertent discovery of archaeological materials be made in an activity that does not meet the definition of land disturbing activity, or in an area that has been identified as not having a significant archaeological site, the CPO should be contacted for initial assessment immediately.


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