for their potential impact to cultural resources in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA of 1966, as amended in 1992). The Maryland Historic Trust has developed Standards and Guidelines for Archeological Investigations in Maryland to assist in this endeavor and help “fill in the missing pages of history”. There are basically three phases for meeting compliance responsibilities. Based on preliminary assessment by the Maryland Historic Trust, projects are evaluated during the planning process
The process begins with a Phase I archeological investigation, which consists of a systematic and detailed field survey aimed at discovering archeological, structural, historic and prehistoric resources. The purposes of this field reconnaissance are: to inspect the property to locate visible features, artifacts, standing structures; to identify areas that are severely disturbed and areas with a high probability or potential of containing significant resources; and to sample the soil strata by excavating shovel test pits. Sometimes, the survey includes deep testing with mechanized equipment to identify buried layers that may contain evidence of early occupation and use.
In some cases, it may be recommended that a Phase II evaluation be undertaken on potentially significant sites. Sufficient information is gathered in order to make definitive statements concerning the sites’ cultural and historic significance and eligibility for inclusion in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties or National Register of Historic Places. The Phase II evaluation includes surface observation, artifact collection, subsurface testing and includes descriptions/ photographs of the project area. A formal assessment of the project’s impact on the site and recommendations for avoidance are documented in a detailed written report. The Trust curates over 7,000,000 artifacts, some of which are housed at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.
A Phase III investigation seeks to avoid, reduce or mitigate the effect on significant archeological resources. Protective easements and restrictive covenants, designed to protect the identified archeological resources, are typically a part of developing preservation plans. Although in-place preservation is the most desirable treatment option, in some cases it is necessary to undertake an intensive data recovery program at historic/prehistoric sites and structures that may be adversely and unavoidably impacted by project activities.