Together with our full range of Cultural Resources and Archaeological services, AAHA Has Successfully Conducted Hundreds of Phase I Archaeological Surveys for Private and Government Clients.

A Phase I archaeological survey is often the first step in the archaeological process.  The goal of a Phase I archaeological survey is to determine the presence or absence of archaeological resources within a project area.  This type of investigation is usually prompted by a request from a Federal, State or Local review body. 

There investigations are usually broken down into four tasks:

1) Background Research

2) Field Investigations

3) Artifact Processing

4) Report Preparation 


Background Research

The goal of background research is to inform the Phase I investigation through an examination of factors which previous experience has shown affect the nature, distribution, and condition of archaeological resources.  This task includes an examination of information concerning the history, prehistory, and environment of the Study Area.  Archaeological site files, available at State Historic Preservation Offices, are examined and historic maps and photographs are gathered.  Additionally, as appropriate, local historical societies and libraries will be consulted, as well as individuals with knowledge of the area's history and nearby archaeological resources. 

 Field Survey

 AAHA designs each the field survey for each Phase I survey in concert with specific information for each project area.  As noted above, the archaeological field investigation is conducted to locate specific evidence of archaeological resources in the project area.  The level of effort necessary to reliably document the presence or absence of archaeological resources is largely dependent on the extent of ground surface visibility. 

There are two major methods for the identification of archaeological sites.  In areas where surface visibility is adequate, such as plowed field, the project area can be prepared for a pedestrian survey with the fields walked at intervals to identify archaeological resources on the plowed surface.   When ground surfaces are obscured by vegetation, such as pastures or woods, archaeologists must manually excavate test pits to reveal soils and their contents.  In general, shovel test pits are excavated at 15 to 20-meter intervals, measure approximately 35 cm in diameter, and extend into natural subsoil.  The necessary number of such shovel test pits is dependent on conditions within the project area, such as the presence of steep slope, wetlands, or obvious disturbances. 

An archaeological site is defined based on the presence of artifacts or other indications of human presence in an area.  In most cases, an archaeological site is defined by the recovery of artifacts from multiple shovel test pits within close proximity to each other or the recovery of artifacts within a defined portion of an agricultural field or other surface survey area.  When artifacts are recovered from shovel test pits, additional shovel test pits are excavated at closer intervals in order to more closely define the boundaries of the site.  Artifacts are then returned to the AAHA laboratory.

Artifact Processing and Data Analysis

Artifacts recovered in the course of the Phase I field survey are washed and inventoried.  Recovered artifacts are identified as to material, temporal or cultural/chronological association, style, and function.  The artifacts are then analyzed to seek patterns in the assemblage which could indicate the functional nature of the assemblages or the formation processes associated with their deposition. 

Report Preparation

Upon completion of the investigation, AAHA prepares a fully detailed report presenting the goals, methods, and results of the Phase I investigation.  Background and field data are evaluated, synthesized, and placed in broader perspective based on existing knowledge of archaeological resources of the region.  The report addresses the extent and potential significance of archaeological resources within the project area, if any.  As appropriate, recommendations to mitigate adverse effects to potentially significant archaeological resources are developed.  The report contains appropriate illustrations, including maps, drawings, and photographs.