Field Standards 


  • The goal of archaeological monitoring is to assess the presence/absence of archaeological deposits in areas that were not examined by Phase I survey.
  • The decision to employ monitoring on a given project, rather than Phase I survey, must be considered on a case-by-case basis.    The Division does not support the use of monitoring as a general survey strategy but recognizes that it may be the most appropriate investigation strategy in limited situations.  Investigators must consult with the Division concerning the scope of work for archaeological monitoring as the project proposal is developed.
  • Monitoring may also be employed to ensure that known sites within a project area are not impacted by ground-disturbing activities.

Monitoring Methodology

  • An SOI qualified archaeologist must be present for all monitored excavations.  Selection of a prehistoric or historic qualified archaeologist should be based upon the type of archaeological deposits anticipated to be encountered.
  • The monitor should be present for all excavations within high site probability areas.  Excavations in low site probability areas do not need to be continually monitored but must be regularly inspected as the excavation proceeds.
  • Circumstances that limit or prevent visual examination of project excavations must be described in the report and the unexamined or minimally examined areas delineated on a project area map.
  • At the discretion of the monitoring archaeologist, excavation or other ground-disturbing activities must be halted any time a suspected archaeological feature or deposit is encountered. Excavations in the area of the discovery must remain halted until the archaeologist can determine the nature, extent, and age of the archaeological deposit.  If the initial examination determines the deposit may have sufficient integrity and content to be considered potentially eligible for nomination to the National Register, all further excavations in the vicinity of the deposit must be halted until a complete eligibility determination can be made.  Excavations outside of the find location may proceed with continued monitoring.
  • The report must include a map showing the locations of all excavations, surface structures, topography, and identified archaeological deposits within the project area where archaeological monitoring is occurring. 
  • Representative profiles of all excavations should be recorded in the field by both photographs and illustrations.
  • In the event human remains should be encountered during an archaeological monitoring project, work must stop immediately in the vicinity of the uncovered human remains.  Immediate notice regarding the discovery should be made to the appropriate local law enforcement agency, the lead federal agency, the Parish Coroner's Office, and the State Archaeologist following the provisions of the Louisiana Unmarked Human Burials Site Preservation Act (R.S. 671 et seq). Within 24-hours of the notification, the State Archaeologist shall notify any Native American tribe that has indicated interest in the area of the discovery.  The local law enforcement officials shall assess the nature and age of the human skeletal remains. If the coroner determines that the human skeletal remains are older than 50 years of age, the Louisiana Division of Archaeology has jurisdiction over the remains and will work out appropriate plans among property owners, appropriate Tribes, living descendents, and other interested parties to insure compliance with existing state laws.  No remains will be removed until jurisdiction is established.

Defining Archaeological Site Boundaries

  • If archaeological deposits are encountered, the boundaries of the deposit (site) must be delineated horizontally and vertically at a scale equivalent to the Phase I site delineation standard. 
  • If a site is identified during stripping, slab removal, or other surface exposure, delineation via shovel-tests to ascertain the limits is appropriate.
  • If a site is identified within a mechanically excavated trench and shovel testing is not practical, cores or augers should be used to define site limits to avoid substantial impact to the site through numerous trenches.  If further mechanical excavation is necessary, it should be limited to the minimum number of trenches necessary to provide approximate site limits.
  • Investigators must provide the UTMs of the center point of an archaeological site by a Global Positioning System (GPS) device.  At least four additional GPS points are required to define the boundaries of sites that are greater than 400 m2 in area.
  • Locations of cultural material that are more than 50 years old, but do not meet other qualifications for being recorded as a site should be considered Isolated Finds and included in the report on monitoring investigations.
  • At the completion of the monitoring, investigators must assess if an identified site is eligible, not eligible, or undetermined for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.  Documentation for these assessments should be provided in the report submitted to the Division of Archaeology.
  • A site form or site update form must be filed for every site identified or revisited during a monitoring project.

Collection Standards

  • If backhoe trenches are employed, investigators must retain all diagnostic artifacts and a representative sample of non-diagnostic items recovered from disturbed contexts (backdirt piles, wall scrapings, etc.).  All artifacts, including bulk materials, must be retained from undisturbed contexts (i.e., midden lenses or features exposed in trench walls).  After counting or weighing in the field or lab, bulk materials such as brick, mortar, plaster, shell and gravel may be discarded except for a 10% representative sample per provenience.  Please see our Curation Standards for more information.
  • Investigators must separate all archaeological materials by their provenience for curation.
  • Catalog numbers for each collection must be obtained from the Division.
  • Investigators must retain all field notes, field forms, photographs, and other documentation for curation.
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