Consultants Guide (Archaeology)
Researching Archaeological and Historical Properties in Your Project Area:
Data on historic and prehistoric resources are not available online at our website. Our Historic Preservation Division (HPD) office policies require researchers to make an appointment and come into our office to perform their own research.
For a research appointment call: 404-651-6775
Hours open for research (may vary depending on HPD staff availability):
(Closed Monday morning and Friday afternoon; lunch hour every day)
Monday (closed mornings) 1-4 p.m.
Tuesday 9-12 a.m. 1-4 p.m.
Wednesday 9-12 a.m. 1-4 p.m.
Thursday 9-12 a.m. 1-4 p.m.
Friday 9-12 a.m. (closed afternoons)
You may check the U.S. Department of Interior's Website for the National Register of Historic Places, for Georgia properties listed in the register. However, we cannot warrant that the online data is current and it will not include all archaeological properties. Archaeological sites that are evaluated as eligible but not actually listed in the register must also receive protection as mandated under the National Historic Preservation Act, so it is important to obtain information on them as well as historic structures.
Identified archaeological sites data must be obtained from two separate locations:
1. Technical reports generated under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. A complete set of these reports is available at HPD.
2. The identified sites database and maps showing site locations. These are located at the Archaeological Site File at the University of Georgia in Athens. The Site File is open during regular business hours and can be contacted at 706.542.8737,110 Riverbend Road, Athens, GA 30602.
Archaeology and the Section 106 Process
Archaeology is an often-overlooked component of the Section 106 process. This is at least in part because the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation (36 CFR Part 800, et seq.) apply the term “historic properties” to both historic buildings and structures AND archaeological sites.
What exactly is an archaeological site?
The standards and guidelines adopted by the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists and recognized by this office define an archaeological site as a concentration of artifacts [man-made objects], ecofacts [bone, shell, plant remains], or modification to the landscape [terraces, mounds, trenches, etc.] that are associated with past human activity and retain their context (i.e., their ability to provide important information). Like most other historic properties, archaeological sites must be at least 50 years old; however, unlike historic properties such as houses, the location of an archaeological site is not always apparent.
Section 106 Archaeology Guidance
Potential permit applicants, federal agencies, and stakeholders often have questions about archaeology and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, As Amended. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has issued guidance regarding some of the most common issues.
The Georgia Archaeological Site File
The Georgia Archaeological Site File (GASF) is the official repository for information about known archaeological sites of all periods in the state of Georgia, and is housed at the University of Georgia.. Qualified archaeologists can request access to site files available online via GNAHRGIS by contacting UGA:
The Georgia Archaeological Site File
UGA Laboratory of Archaeology
110 Riverbend Road
Athens, GA 30602-4702
phone: (706) 542-8737
fax: (706) 542-8920
The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) lists historic properties, including archaeological sites, that are considered significant according to a specific set of criteria. There are currently fewer than 100 archaeological resources in Georgia that are listed in the NRHP compared to over 38,000 recorded archaeological sites and approximately 1 million estimated archaeological sites located across the state. If you only consult the National Register files located at HPD or the NRIS on-line database, you risk missing potentially significant archaeological resources located in your project area. The official repository of archaeological site data is the Georgia Archaeological Site File located in Athens. At the GASF, you will find the most current listing of sites recorded in the state, along with their locations on USGS 7.5 minute topographic quadrangles. You will also find information on archaeology projects that have been conducted in the state, and possibly your project area. This kind of information can help eliminate redundancy and save time and money. To help defray the costs of maintaining the database, providing information to consultants, public outreach, and other important functions of the GASF, consultants are charged a fee of $175 for reviewing site files data. The information that the GASF provides, however, can save money in the long run AND assure that our non-renewable cultural resources are being managed responsibly.
Georgia Burial Laws (Laws)
Another important consideration in projects involving ground disturbance is the potential to disturb human remains. Understandably, human burials are a very sensitive issue, politically and otherwise. Buried human remains can be, but are not always grouped into cemeteries. Even when they are grouped into cemeteries, they are not always recorded on a map and are not always easily identifiable on the ground. Some cemeteries have traditional carved stone grave markers, while others are marked with simple field stones. Many, perhaps most, have no markers at all. Follow this link to learn about cemetery preservation and the Archaeological Services Unit.
The Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns has recently published a booklet explaining Georgia's burial laws and how they affect development. For a copy you may contact the Council at (404) 651-5871 or access their website above.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 31-21-44 states that it is unlawful for any person to wantonly or maliciously disturb or remove remains and/or contents from a grave. (OCGA) 31-21-6 states that anyone who disturbs or discovers human remains or knows of human remains being disturbed or discovered shall immediately notify local law enforcement. In the event that the area is deemed to be a cemetery and/or archaeological site, DNR is notified of the discovery. If the remains are believed to be Native American, then DNR will notify the Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns (OCGA 44-12-280), which is empowered to advise appropriate agencies and individuals regarding issues and often becomes involved in burial matters.
Cultural Resource Management Firms (CRM) and Consultants
Our ability to review your project in a timely manner depends on how quickly we receive the information needed to complete the review. How quickly we receive the information needed to complete the review depends on your knowledge of the Section 106 process and historic properties. If you do not have a historic preservation specialist on staff, you might consider outsourcing this portion of your project to a cultural resource management (CRM) consulting firm. Just as there are consulting firms that specialize in wetlands or endangered species, there are consulting firms that specialize in cultural resource (i.e., historic properties) concerns. A consultant can guide you through the process smoothly, and conduct any archival and/or field research (archaeological and/or architectural surveys) that may be necessary as part of the review.
Archaeological Assessment Report Guidelines
Archaeological Survey Standards - The Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists has compiled recommended minimum standards for archaeological surveys in Georgia. The Office of the State Archaeologist/HPD concurs with these standards.
Professional Archaeologist Standards - The state of Georgia has adopted the professional qualification standards for archaeologists issued by the U. S. Department of the Interior through the National Park Service.
Georgia Archaeological Contexts and Resources - These resources are Occasional Papers in Cultural Resource Management from the Georgia Department of Transportation and Laboratory of Archaeology Series Reports from the University of Georgia. Though some of these resources are older they may provide historic context that more recent articles and book chapters build upon.
Notification of the State Archaeologist is required under Official Code of GA Section 12-3-621, when the surface of any archaeological site is disturbed for the purpose of investigating the site or discovering artifacts. This code section was amended on July 1, 2007 to provide for notification through this website. You may also contact Jennifer Bedell, senior staff archaeologist, at 404-657-1042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the following information:
- your name and contact information
- the county in which you will be digging and other information as to the specific tract of land or location, and
- the date(s) on which you expect to be there.
Please be aware Official Code of Georgia Section 31-21-6 prohibits disturbance of human graves and associated grave objects. Should you inadvertently encounter anything associated with a burial, please immediately contact the local law enforcement officials for assistance, as directed by this code section.
Who to contact:
Archaeological Compliance Unit Manager