Guidelines for Archaeological Investigation and Curation

The NCOSA has revised its Archaeological Standards and Guidelines for Background Research, Field Methodologies, Technical Reports, and Curation document, last revised in 2017. The new guidelines will go into effect immediately; however, we realize that consultants may have mostly-completed reports that were written based on the 2017 standards. Any reports submitted prior to December 1, 2023, will not be rejected so long as they meet the 2017 guidelines. Any reports received after December 1, 2023, will be evaluated according to the new 2023 guidelines.

Standards and Guidelines

The OSA has changed our Environmental Review report and site form submission requirements. Effective June 30, 2023, we will require:

One (1) digital copy of the archaeological survey report, to be sent through Sharefile.
One (1) digital copy of each NC Site Form(s) with site map(s) for each site that was recorded as part of the archaeological investigation, to be sent through Sharefile. Please submit each site form as separate documents.

Hard copies of reports will be requested by the OSA once we determine that no further changes to the report are needed. Concurrence letters will not be sent until after we receive the hard copy of the final archaeological survey report.

The NCOSA will use Citrix ShareFile for archaeological consultants submitting digital archaeological report and site files for Environmental Review. Citrix ShareFile is a secure online file sharing and transfer service that will take the place of CDs and USBs. Effective June 30, 2023, all digital ER archaeological survey files (i.e., reports, site forms, GIS data, etc.) must be submitted by archaeological consultants through ShareFile. We will no longer accept CDs or USBs. To request a ShareFile account for your organization, please review our ShareFile User Guidelines and fill out a ShareFile User Access Form. Return forms to Kim Urban.

For additional information regarding requirements, please visit the Environmental Review page.

Artifact Curation and Donation

The OSARC accepts state- and federally-owned collections for permanent curation, as well as private donations. The forms below are needed for both types of collections. Please refer to the OSA guidelines above for advice regarding the processing and curation of state- and federally-owned collections. See the Curation page for more information.

Incoming Collections Form

Deed of Gift Form

Site Forms

For the purposes of archaeological site identification, the OSA defines an archaeological site as a location where at least one artifact or feature greater than 50 years of age has been identified. The North Carolina Office of State Archaeology currently distributes four types of archaeological site recording forms.

  1. North Carolina Archaeological Site Form VIII is the most comprehensive reporting form and must be used to report sites recorded during any compliance-related projects or projects funded under state grants or contracts in North Carolina. Utilize the Site Form Handbook for questions and guidance on filling out this form.
  2. The Citizen Archaeologist Form is a form for members of the public to report sites. Visit our Citizen Archaeologist page for guidance on filling out and submitting a form.
  3. The Cemetery Site Form is specific to recording and reporting cemeteries during any compliance-related projects or projects funded under state grants or contracts in North Carolina. Please visit our Cemetery Page for more information about cemeteries.
  4. The Citizen Cemetery Site Form is for members of the public to record and report cemeteries. Please visit our Citizen Cemetery Site Form Instructions page for guidance.

Completed forms should be sent to:

Site Registrar
Rosie Blewitt
Office of State Archaeology
4619 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4619

Permanent Site Numbers and Accession Numbers

Guidelines for consultant firms. Citizens may follow the Citizen Archaeologist guidance for reporting sites.

All archaeological sites identified as a result of field investigations receive a trinomial site number to be included on a completed OSA site form submitted for compliance review. Any artifacts to be curated with the OSA Research Center require an OSA-assigned accession number. Please make requests for site and/or accession numbers by email to Questions about requests may be emailed or call 919-814-6558.

Please do not send partially completed site forms as a means of making a request. Completed site forms should be submitted after the requested site numbers and applicable accession numbers have been assigned.

When requesting state site numbers from the OSA, please provide the information below. It is helpful to provide this information in a table format, such as an Excel spreadsheet. The Site Number Request Table may be used as a template when submitting a request for permanent site numbers.

  • Project or temporary site number for each site
  • County in which the site is located
  • Age of the site: prehistoric, historic, or both
  • The sites for which an artifact accession number is being requested
  • A topographic map(s) clearly noting site location(s) and boundaries, map name (i.e. quadrangle name), and county. If all sites legibly fit on a single map, one may be submitted for multiple sites.
  • GIS information in the form of shapefiles (preferred), kmz/kml files, or the UTMs and datum for each site
    We request both a map and shapefiles to ensure the most accurate plotting of sites in our GIS record. If you choose to submit shapefiles or kmz/kml files, we do not require the submission of UTMs. Please review the following section for how to best submit GIS data when requesting site numbers.

Submitting GIS Data

When requesting permanent state site numbers, we recommend submitting GIS data for all sites. To reduce the errors in location accuracy we prefer receiving boundaries (i.e. polygons) of archaeological sites, surveyed areas and/or Areas of Potential Effect (APE). The following is guidance for ease in submitting appropriate GIS data to OSA.

  • Please use WGS 1984 Web Mercator (auxiliary sphere). This is the projection used by OSA, but we will also accept NAD 1983 North Carolina State Plane (Feet) or NAD 1927 UTM Zones 16, 17, or 18 (site form still requires UTMs).
  • Zip GIS data into one file for transmission. For example, whether you are submitting one shapefile or three shapefiles, there should be one zipped file submitted. Zipping shapefiles ensures that all associated files (.prj, .dbf, .shp, etc.) are included. Tables and maps do not need to be zipped with GIS data.
  • Sites should be grouped into one shapefile of like feature type (e.g. sites recorded as polygons should be merged into one shapefile; sites recorded as points in another). This limits the amount of processing done by OSA staff.
  • Do not merge dissimilar data (e.g. APEs with sites).
  • Please identify the site(s) by including the temporary site number in the attribute table.
  • Some email providers may not allow .zip files as attachments. If this is the case, rename the file extension by adding “_rename”. Example: “” becomes “sites.zip_rename”.
  • In addition to GIS data, we request a map of site locations to ensure that sites are accurately plotted when they are imported into our GIS record.

If you have questions concerning submitting GIS data, please contact GIS Specialist Sam Franklin.