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GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROJECTS
THAT INCLUDE EARTH MOVING, GRADING,
OR OTHER SOIL OPERATIONS

The following procedures can be implemented on future projects as general procedures. They should not supersede specific recommendations made as a result of a cultural resources evaluation, but should be implemented as general procedures to be followed when other instructions are lacking. The term "Agency", when capitalized, means the entity sponsoring the work under discussion. This may be a public agency, a private company, or any other sponsoring agency.

  1. It should be required of all contractors and subcontractors that they inform all employees or others on the job site that no artifacts are to be removed from the area except through authorized procedures. In this usage "artifacts" means any item over fifty (50) years of age.
    It should be made clear to all individuals and companies associated with any project that any artifacts found in the course of work are the property of the Agency. It is not up to the contractor to determine what the Agency considers important. When defining artifacts so closely, the district retains the ability to determine whether or not to bring in an archaeologist to examine the find. As a general rule, artifacts greater than 100 years of age should be considered important unless a specific evaluation determines otherwise. Artifacts greater than fifty years old, but less than 100 years old should be considered important enough to be evaluated, but generally, the process of recording the discovery location will be an adequate "mitigation" of any potential negative impacts. Artifacts less than fifty years old are only important if they associate with a specific historic event of recognized significance.
     
  2. Any artifacts that are found on or near the project area are to be turned over to, or brought to the attention of, the inspector, project manager, or the individuals immediate supervisor
    . The inspector is the most likely interface for this task. He or she is on the job daily, and sees everything that is built. The most workable situation would probably see the individual workers turning things into their immediate supervisor, who would report the discovery to the inspector. The inspector should go to the discovery location and determine that the artifact is not part of a larger deposit. This may not be obvious. If the inspector is satisfied that other artifacts will not be found in the location, the artifact should be removed from the area and work continued. If the inspector cannot make the determination, an archaeologist should examine the area and make appropriate recommendations. Often, if a major archaeological site is found, it will be apparent to all that an important discovery has been made. More subtle deposits require professional evaluation to determine their importance.
     
  3. Whenever any artifact is found or reported, a tag should be included that indicates the following:
  • the identity of the finder and the date of discovery,
  • the identity of the inspector or other responsible individual to whom the artifact is given,
  • a description of the location where the artifact was found, such as the approximate distance and direction to the nearest measured point, identification of a point on the building plans, or other reliable, accurate method,
  • a description of the artifact that will allow it to be identified if the tag and artifact are separated.

If the inspector carries a supply of small plastic baggies and 3x5 cards this process will be very simple. For large artifacts the tag can be attached with string or tape. Wrapping large artifacts with survey tape and writing on the tape is acceptable. The important thing is that the information be kept with the artifact. If the project is going to involve extensive excavation or ground disturbance, it is more likely that artifacts will be found. In these instances, preprinted cards can be used that prompt for the appropriate information.
 

  1. The artifact, if portable, should be transported to a safe location where it can be kept until it can be inspected by an archaeologist
  2. . When removed by the inspector or other responsible person, the artifact should be transported to a location such as the Agency office where it can be kept under secure conditions. At the beginning of any project, the location for artifacts to be brought, and the responsible individuals they can be turned over to, should be identified by the Project Manager. A log of artifacts should be maintained at the storage location.

If you have questions about whether your project will need professional monitoring or spot checking, please contact us.

Archaeological Resource Service
613 Martin Avenue, Suite 101 Rohnert Park, California 94928
Phone: (707) 586-2577 Fax: (707) 586-2580
Email: info@digsmart.com

Copyright 2003-2017 Archaeological Resource Service
The information provided herein is for general background purposes only and is not intended as a definitive statement of either the presence or absence of archaeological deposits on any particular property or the handling thereof.  It is not a substitute for professional investigation and advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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