general nav links About ACHP
Federal, State, & Tribal Programs
Training & Education
|| skip specific nav links
Working with Section 106 Users Guide Section 106 Archeology Guidance
Recommended Approach for Consultation on Recovery of Significant Information from Archeological Sites
Dates, Addresses, and Contact Information
Archeological Sites and Their Treatment
Resolving Adverse Effects through Recovery of Significant Information from Archeological Sites
Model Memorandum of Agreement
Summary: In accordance with Secs. 800.5
and 800.6 of its revised regulations (36 CFR part 800, "Protection of
Historic Properties," published [May 18, 1999]) implementing Section 106
of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Advisory Council
on Historic Preservation is publishing a recommended approach for consultation
by Federal agencies, State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Historic
Preservation Officers, and others on the effects of Federal, federally
assisted, and federally licensed or -permitted undertakings on archeological
sites. ACHP has determined that issuance of this guidance is consistent
with ACHP's revised regulations. The full text of the guidance is reproduced
under the Supplementary Information section of this
Dates: This guidance is effective
on June 17, 1999.
Addresses: Those wishing to comment
on this guidance should direct such comments to: Executive Director, Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation, Old Post Office Building, 1100 Pennsylvania
Ave., NW, #803, Washington, DC 20004; Fax (202) 606-8647; e-mail email@example.com.
For further information, contact:
Reid Nelson, Director, Office of
Federal Agency Programs Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Old
Post Office Building, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., # 803, Washington, DC
20004, (202) 606-8505.
Supplementary Information: The full
text of the guidance, with the model Memorandum of Agreement, is reproduced
Sections 800.5 and 800.6 of ACHP's revised regulations,
"Protection of Historic Properties" (36 CFR part 800) detail the process
by which Federal agencies determine whether their undertakings will adversely
affect historic properties, and if they will, how they are to consult
to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effects in order to meet the
requirements of Section 106 to "take into account" the effects of their
undertakings on historic properties.
One such category of historic properties is comprised
of prehistoric or historic archeological resources. The National Register
of Historic Places defines an archeological site as "the place or places
where the remnants of a past culture survive in a physical context that
allows for the interpretation of these remains" (National Register Bulletin
36, "Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Historical Archeological
Sites and Districts," 1993, p. 2). Such properties may meet criteria for
inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places for a variety of
reasons, not the least of which may be because "they have yielded, or
may be likely to yield, information important to prehistory or history"
(National Register Criteria for Evaluation, 36 CFR 60.4).
In the context of taking into account the effects
of a proposed Federal or federally assisted undertaking on any district,
site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for
inclusion in the National Register, potential impacts to archeological
sites often need to be considered. Appropriate treatments for affected
archeological sites, or portions of archeological sites, may include active
preservation in place for future study or other use, recovery or partial
recovery of archeological data, public interpretive display, or any combination
of these and other measures.
Archeological Sites and Their Treatment
The nature and scope of treatments for such
properties should be determined in consultation with other parties, but
in ACHP's experience they generally need to be guided by certain basic
- The pursuit of knowledge about the past is in the public interest.
- An archeological site may have important values for living communities
and cultural descendants in addition to its significance as a resource
for learning about the past; its appropriate treatment depends on its
research significance, weighed against these other public values.
- Not all information about the past is equally important; therefore,
not all archeological sites are equally important for research purposes.
- Methods for recovering information from archeological sites, particularly
large-scale excavation, are by their nature destructive. The site is
destroyed as it is excavated. Therefore management of archeological
sites should be conducted in a spirit of stewardship for future generations,
with full recognition of their non-renewable nature and their potential
multiple uses and public values.
- Given the non-renewable nature of archeological sites, it follows
that if an archeological site can be practically preserved in place
for future study or other use, it usually should be (although there
are exceptions). However, simple avoidance of a site is not the same
- Recovery of significant archeological information through controlled
excavation and other scientific recording methods, as well as destruction
without data recovery, may both be appropriate treatments for certain
- Once a decision has been made to recover archeological information
through the naturally destructive methods of excavation, a research
design and data recovery plan based on firm background data, sound planning,
and accepted archeological methods should be formulated and implemented.
Data recovery and analysis should be accomplished in a thorough, efficient
manner, using the most cost- effective techniques practicable. A responsible
archeological data recovery plan should provide for reporting and dissemination
of results, as well as interpretation of what has been learned so that
it is understandable and accessible to the public. Appropriate arrangements
for curation of archeological materials and records should be made.
Adequate time and funds should be budgeted for fulfillment of the overall
- Archeological data recovery plans and their research designs should
be grounded in and related to the priorities established in regional,
state, and local historic preservation plans, the needs of land and
resource managers, academic research interests, and other legitimate
- Human remains and funerary objects deserve respect and should be treated
appropriately. The presence of human remains in an archeological site
usually gives the site an added importance as a burial site or cemetery,
and the values associated with burial sites need to be fully considered
in the consultation process.
- Large-scale, long-term archeological identification and management
programs require careful consideration of management needs, appreciation
for the range of archeological values represented, periodic synthesis
of research and other program results, and professional peer review
Resolving Adverse Effects through Recovery of Significant
Information from Archeological Sites
Under 36 CFR 800.5, archeological sites may
be "adversely affected" when they are threatened with unavoidable physical
destruction or damage. Based on the principles articulated above, ACHP
recommends that the following issues be considered and addressed when
archeological sites are so affected, and recovery of significant information
from them through excavation and other scientific means is the most appropriate
If this guidance is followed, it is highly unlikely
that ACHP would decide to enter the consultation process under 36 CFR
800.6 or raise objections to the proposed resolution of adverse effects
in a given case, unless it is informed of serious problems by a consulting
party or a member of the public.
- The archeological site should be significant and of value chiefly
for the information on prehistory or history it is likely to yield through
archeological, historical, and scientific methods of information recovery,
including archeological excavation.
- The archeological site should not contain or be likely to contain
human remains, associated or unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects,
or items of cultural patrimony as those terms are defined by the Native
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001).
- The archeological site should not have long-term preservation value,
such as traditional cultural and religious importance to an Indian tribe
or a Native Hawaiian organization.
- The archeological site should not possess special significance to
another ethnic group or community that historically ascribes cultural
or symbolic value to the site and would object to the site's excavation
and removal of its contents.
- The archeological site should not be valuable for potential permanent
in-situ display or public interpretation, although temporary public
display and interpretation during the course of any excavations may
be highly appropriate.
- The Federal Agency Official should have prepared a data recovery plan
with a research design in consultation with the SHPO/THPO*
and other stakeholders that is consistent with the Secretary of the
Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, the
Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology
and Historic Preservation, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's
Treatment of Archeological Properties: A Handbook. The plan should
specify: (a) The results of previous research relevant to the project;
(b) research problems or questions to be addressed with an explanation
of their relevance and importance; (c) the field and laboratory analysis
methods to be used with a justification of their cost-effectiveness
and how they apply to this particular property and these research needs;
(d) the methods to be used in artifact, data, and other records management;
(e) explicit provisions for disseminating the research findings to professional
peers in a timely manner; (f) arrangements for presenting what has been
found and learned to the public, focusing particularly on the community
or communities that may have interests in the results; (g) the curation
of recovered materials and records resulting from the data recovery
in accordance with 36 CFR part 79 (except in the case of unexpected
discoveries that may need to be considered for repatriation pursuant
to NAGPRA); and (h) procedures for evaluating and treating discoveries
of unexpected remains or newly identified historic properties during
the course of the project, including necessary consultation with other
- The Federal Agency Official should ensure that the data recovery plan
is developed and will be implemented by or under the direct supervision
of a person, or persons, meeting at a minimum the Secretary of the
Interior's Professional Qualifications Standards (48 FR 44738- 44739).
- The Federal Agency Official should ensure that adequate time and money
to carry out all aspects of the plan are provided, and should ensure
that all parties consulted in the development of the plan are kept informed
of the status of its implementation.
- The Federal Agency Official should ensure that a final archeological
report resulting from the data recovery will be provided to the SHPO/THPO*.
The Federal Agency Official should ensure that the final report is responsive
to professional standards, and to the Department of the Interior's Format
Standards for Final Reports of Data Recovery Programs (42 FR 5377-79).
- Large, unusual, or complex projects should provide for special oversight,
including professional peer review.
- The Federal Agency Official should determine that there are no unresolved
issues concerning the recovery of significant information with any Indian
tribe or Native Hawaiian organization that may attach religious and
cultural significance to the affected property.
- Federal Agency Officials should incorporate the terms and conditions
of this recommended approach into a Memorandum of Agreement or Programmatic
Agreement, file a copy with ACHP per Sec. 800.6(b)(iv), and implement
the agreed plan. The agency should retain a copy of the agreement and
supporting documentation in the project files.
Model Memorandum of Agreement
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT FOR
RECOVERY OF SIGNIFICANT INFORMATION
FROM ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE(S)
Whereas, in accordance with 36 CFR Part 800,
the [Federal Agency] acknowledges and accepts the advice and conditions
outlined in ACHP's "Recommended Approach for Consultation on the Recovery
of Significant Information from Archeological Sites," published in the
Federal Register on [date of publication]; and
Whereas, the consulting parties agree that recovery
of significant information from the archeological site(s) listed above
may be done in accordance with the published guidance; and
Whereas, the consulting parties agree that it
is in the public interest to expand funds to implement this project through
the recovery of significant information from archeological sites to mitigate
the adverse effects of the project; and
Whereas, the consulting parties agree that Indian
Tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations that may attach religious or cultural
importance to the affected property(ies) have been consulted and have
raised no objection to the work proposed; and
Whereas, to the best of our knowledge and belief,
no human remains, associated or unassociated funerary objects or sacred
objects, or objects of cultural patrimony as defined in the Native American
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001), are expected
to be encountered in the archeological work;
Now, therefore, the [Federal Agency] shall ensure
that the following terms and conditions, including the appended Archeological
Data Recovery Plan, will be implemented in a timely manner and with adequate
resources in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of
1966 (16 U.S.C. 470).
OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
- Modification, amendment, or termination of this agreement as necessary
shall be accomplished by the signatories in the same manner as the original
- Disputes regarding the completion of the terms of this agreement shall
be resolved by the signatories. If the signatories cannot agree regarding
a dispute, any one of the signatories may request the participation
of ACHP to assist in resolving the dispute.
- This agreement shall be null and void if its terms are not carried
out within 5 (five) years from the date of its execution, unless the
signatories agree in writing to an extension for carrying out its terms.
State Historic Preservation Officer:
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer*: Official:
Other Public or Private Entity:
[Attach Archeological Data Recovery Plan here]
Dated: May 7, 1999.
John M. Fowler,
[FR Doc. 99-12055 Filed 5-17-99; 8:45 am]
The regulations define the term "THPO" as those tribes that have assumed
SHPO responsibilities on their tribal lands and have been certified pursuant
to Section 101(d)(2) of the NHPA. Nevertheless, remember that tribes that
have not been so certified have the same consultation and concurrence rights
as THPOs when the undertaking takes place, or affects historic properties,
on their tribal lands. The practical difference is that during such undertakings,
THPOs would be consulted in lieu of the SHPO, while non-certified
tribes would be consulted in addition to the SHPO.
September 30, 2010
Return to Top