Excavation

The second phase of the CRM process, following the initial survey and assessment is Phase IB Field Testing

Excavating a midden at City Hall Park
Excavating a midden at City Hall Park
Excavating an 18th century well at City Hall.
Excavating an 18th century well at City Hall.
Artifact screening at Peck Slip.
Artifact screening at Peck Slip.
Phase IB testing involves small-scale physical excavation to test a site's potential for harboring buried historic material. The CRM firm deploys a small team to excavate a limited number of Standardized Test Pits (STPs) and/or larger Test Units by hand, although the assistance of mechanical equipment may be required depending on the ground surface. This is done to determine if the materials remaining below ground are culturally significant beyond what the written record provides. Cultural materials may include architectural remnants, prehistoric and historic era artifacts, or human remains.

Prior to the commencement of Phase IB field testing, the contractor and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed testing protocol/plan of action developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IA and the contractor's proposed project plan. Only then will physical testing begin.

Once fieldwork is completed, time is required for laboratory analysis of the materials recovered. A general rule is that for every one week spent in the field at least two weeks are required for laboratory work. During this process artifacts are washed, analyzed, and recorded in a digital database. This information is then synthesized into the final Phase IB Report, which must meet the approval of the SHPO or local government historic agency.

If the recovered materials are determined not to be significant, the cultural resource process ends at this stage.

If the recovered materials are determined to be significant, the next phase begins.

Depending upon the site history, monitoring by a professional archaeologist can, at times, occur in lieu of field testing. Monitoring requires that the archaeologist be on site during excavation portions of the construction project to ensure there is no disturbance to significant cultural resources. If the archaeologist determines there to be significant resources being impacted during the excavation, he or she may temporarily halt the excavation until a further determination of the nature of exposed resources can be made.


Phase II Field Testing

Phase II testing employs wider excavation testing through a larger number of both STPs and excavation units. This is to better determine the extent and nature of any buried culturally significant archaeological resources. Prior to the commencement of Phase II field testing, the contractor and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed testing protocol/plan of action developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IB and the contractor's proposed project. Only then will physical testing begin.

The same laboratory procedures outlined for Phase IB testing are followed in the course of Phase II investigations.


Phase III Mitigation

Phase III Mitigation is a full archaeological excavation of the project area. Phase III work occurs only when all the other steps indicate that a major archaeologically significant site remains beneath the project area. Sites that proceed to a Phase III are most likely considered eligible for the National Register.

If a project proceeds to this phase, the site owners, the contractors, and the SHPO or local governing agency generally enact a Memorandum of Understanding and/or Agreement (MOU/MOA). This document outlines what type of work will be done, why, how, and the projected outcome. In addition, prior to the commencement of field excavation, the contractor and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed excavation plan of action developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IB and/or II and the contractor's proposed project plan. Only then will physical testing begin.