Phase II Archaeology Investigation


Phase II archaeological investigation is conducted in order to test or evaluate an archaeological site’s eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

In order to facilitate the evaluation process, specific information should be recovered during a Phase II investigation. This information may include, but is not limited to: evaluating areas of moderate and high artifact densities, determining the vertical limits of the site, the presence of intact, sub-surface, and/or stratified deposits, site structure, and site formation processes. One of the more traditional and standard means of recovering this information is through the excavation of test units.

National Register of Historic Places

Following the completion of Phase II investigations, a consultant should be able to make a Determination of Eligibility (DOE) for all resources evaluated. The Criteria for Evaluation are outlined in the Department of Interior’s regulations, 36 CFR Part 60: “National Register of Historic Places”. Specific references to Criteria for Evaluation are found in 36 CFR 60.4. Additionally, the National Park Service has a series of publications regarding the evaluation of particular cultural resources, including archaeological sites, historic mining properties, and cemeteries (see Appendix A). Consultants should be aware that the determination of eligibility must also take into account “data gaps”, or lapses in our understanding of area history and prehistory.

Phase II investigations consist of additional background research and fieldwork. Prior to the initiation of fieldwork, a detailed and concise scope of work must be submitted to WVSHPO for approval. The Phase II scope of work may be submitted as an appendix or addendum to the completed Phase I technical report. If, during the course of fieldwork, Phase II methods are found to be inadequate, the scope of work may be modified upon consultation with WVSHPO staff. In order to facilitate a DOE for an archaeological site, a member of WVSHPO staff may conduct an on-site evaluation to consult with the project sponsor and archaeological consultant.

Field investigations at the Phase II level are conducted to determine the horizontal and vertical limits of an archaeological site, and to retrieve spatial, temporal, and subsistence information about the site. Field investigations should be designed to retrieve the information necessary to determine the eligibility of a site without seriously impacting the contextual integrity of the resource. Therefore, a limited testing regimen should be developed upon consultation with the WVSHPO staff.

Method of Investigation

A number of field methods and techniques may be implemented during Phase II investigations. These include systematic, controlled surface collection, additional shovel tests, mechanical augering, hand-excavated test units, deep testing, mechanical removal of the plowzone, and use of remote sensing techniques. 1