Starting October 1, 2022, the Office of State Archaeology (OSA), along with the State Historic Preservation Office, will no longer accept compliance reports without a previously assigned Environmental Review (ER) tracking number and without the archaeological investigation having been recommended by the OSA. We will continue to welcome courtesy reports into our report library, but please note that any unsolicited/courtesy report will not be reviewed for compliance purposes.


Overview

Laws and regulations have been passed at both the federal and state level in order to identify and protect significant archaeological resources. A "significant site" is defined under the laws as one which is either listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), a listing of local, state and nationally important historic and archaeological sites. Under the federal and state laws related to cultural resources, one of the most important tasks of the State Historic Preservation Officer (the SHPO), and therefore the Office of State Archaeology (OSA), is the review of projects funded, licensed, or permitted by the federal or state governments. Generally referred to as the Environmental Review Process, it is the means by which archaeological and historic sites are considered in the planning stages of at least some of the many thousands of projects undertaken each year in North Carolina.

When a proposed project falls into one of the categories covered by the laws, the SHPO is given the opportunity to review and comment on its potential for affecting significant sites. If an area is determined to have the potential for significant sites, the OSA may recommend that archaeological investigations be conducted on the property prior to ground-disturbing activities. If a project is considered likely to damage an important site, some form of impact mitigation may be undertaken, either through project avoidance and site preservation or, if necessary, total or partial data recovery ("salvage" excavation).

The review process, as it pertains to archaeology, involves an evaluation of (1) the type and location of the project proposed (good maps are essential), (2) the presence or absence of known sites in the project area, and (3) the potential for significant sites in the area.

Project Background Research

As archaeological site information is protected by both state and federal law, site information at the NC OSA is available for Secretary of the Interior-qualified archaeologists to gather in person at our Raleigh office. At this time, we do not have our site information online. If you would like to have an archaeological consultant come to our Raleigh office to review the project area and/or acquire background information about the general area, please follow the link below to set up an appointment.

Site File Research Scheduling Form

How to Submit Environmental Review

The North Carolina Historic Preservation Office coordinates the submission of projects for environmental review. Please follow their steps for submitting projects outlined below.

How to Submit Environmental Review Projects

Archaeological Consultants

OSA maintains a list of firms and individuals who have previously conducted archaeological work or expressed an interest to do work in North Carolina. You can find the list of consultants by following the link below.

Archaeology Consultant List

Laws Affecting Archaeological Resources

For a summary of state and federal laws that concern archaeological resources, follow the link below.

Laws Affecting Archaeological Resources