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Significance in archaeology and history is a quality that has been defined by both federal and California laws and procedures. One of the most important tasks undertaken by the consultant is to determine if the qualities of “significance” are present in an archaeological site or standing structure.

The “significance” of an archaeological site is a function of the site’s ability to reveal new information about the past, or to be an example of its type. The procedures for determining “significance” are specific, requiring that information about the condition of a site, its cultural affiliation, and its cultural function be determined as part of the evaluation.

The “significance” of a standing structure (building, structure or object according to the governing legislation) lies in several factors. The determination is rooted in the language of the National Register of Historic Places, and mirrored in the California Register of Historic Sites. A structure may be a significant historic structure if it retains integrity and meets at least one of the following criteria

  • It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local or regional history, or the cultural heritage of California or the United States; or
  • It is associated with the lives of persons important to local, California, or national history; or
  • It embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, region, or method or construction, or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values; or
  • It has yielded, or has the potential to yield, information important to the prehistory or history of the local area, California, or the nation.

Additionally, the structure should retain integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. It must also be judged with reference to the particular criteria under which a resource is proposed for eligibility. Alterations over time to a resource or historic changes in its use may themselves have historical, cultural, or architectural significance.

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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