Data Inventory & Geographic Information Systems

Archaeological Data Inventory

North Carolina's archaeological resources represent over 12,000 years of culture and history. Today these resources are becoming increasingly rare as archaeological sites are lost to construction and urban expansion. Even worse, important archaeological sites are threatened by vandalism. Each year hundreds of sites in North Carolina (and thousands over the United States) are damaged or destroyed by unscrupulous collectors who dig for artifacts to sell or to add to their own collections. These activities destroy historic and scientific resources.

It is important that amateur archaeologists, who enjoy collecting Native American artifacts, understand the fragile nature of archaeological sites and practice proper techniques when investigating them. First and foremost, the collector must understand the difference between collecting artifacts from the ground surface and digging into a site. Digging an archaeological site without the supervision of a trained professional destroys most of the information that archaeologists need to interpret a site and should never be attempted. On the other hand, responsible amateur archaeologists can engage in surface collecting of sites and contribute to the knowledge of the prehistory of our state.

Help save our archaeological heritage by accomplishing the following, and together, we can save the past for the future.

Site Record Inventory

The OSA maintains a statewide, computer-based inventory of archaeological sites along with maps, photographs, artifact collections and other data sources that support the inventory. Comprehensive libraries of archaeological reports and publications are also housed at OSA facilities. Access to the site record inventory is limited to in-person visits. To conduct research or view site records please submit an appointment request

More Site Form information


OSA is currently undertaking the laborious process of creating a GIS database of North Carolina's archaeological sites and systematically surveyed areas. This digitization effort has enabled staff to record sites and conduct environmental review within GIS. OSA now accepts recorded sites and surveyed areas in either shapefile or geodatabase formats. Consultants and researchers who visit our Raleigh office have access to the GIS in its current state; however, at this time, we do not offer web-based access.

To schedule an appointment to view our GIS database in our Raleigh office, please fill out this form at least 48 hours in advance, if possible. Individuals seeking to do background research at an OSA facility must meet or be under the supervision of an individual who meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards as described in 36 CFR Part 61 (See OSA Standards and Guidelines Part 2b). It is expected individuals doing background research will have been trained in how to conduct research at the OSA prior to scheduling an appointment. 

To protect sites from looting, OSA's data and inventory is protected by state statute and we reserve the right to restrict access to information when deemed necessary.

Submit a request to conduct site file research