• 02/26/2019 4:52 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
    This post is authored by Brandon M. Gabler, PhD, RPA, Regional Director and Vice President of Operations, and Alison Haller, MS, Director of Marketing and Communications, with Commonwealth Heritage Group.

    Finding relevant content and project examples to share on social media channels is a struggle. We all acknowledge the benefits of creating and sharing relevant, interesting, and timely social media content…like this blog! Social media posts constitute relatively low-cost and high-visibility marketing when done well. Social media is also a great venue for short, pithy updates about a realm of resources in which the public is generally interested (cool bridges and archaeological sites are easier to sell to the public than wetlands and overpass inspections). But to get the benefits, firms must overcome—or at least keep pace with—multiple challenges. Below are thoughts about the perceived top three challenges: 1) social media channel selection, 2) developing content, and 3) negotiating approvals to post content.

    The challenges start with the social media outlets themselves: there are so many from which to choose, each has its own audience and purpose, and each has a lifecycle (Google just terminated its own social media channel, Google+; see also the rise and fall of MySpace). Commonwealth heavily uses three social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Of the three, Facebook—known primarily as a business-to-consumer (B2C) platform—claims the vast majority of our interaction with the public. One recent study stated that 42% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers admit that Facebook (with over 2 billion users) is the most effective B2B social networking platform for their companies because it is heavily customer-satisfaction centric, cost-effective, provides the chance for companies to interact with existing and potential customers, and more.

    For most ACRA member firms, most sales or leads are generated outside of social media (also known as “offline sales”), meaning that the main goal with social media is to build brand awareness by driving traffic to the firms’ websites and generating direct contacts with their teams. We want the people (the C in B2C) who work for other businesses (the second B in B2B: project proponents, designers, constructors, agencies, etc.) to know about our company’s capabilities so they think of us the next time they need a heritage management consultant. One ACRA member firm’s website data tells us that of the three social media channels they use, Facebook is the most useful in driving that goal with over 20% of website traffic coming from a Facebook click.

    The bigger problem is developing and sharing relevant and interesting content. A firm’s goal is to boost brand awareness and drive traffic through raw and authentic content. The most exciting thing about a heritage management firm is the suite of projects in our portfolio, and therefore the best way to generate buzz is to share content about those projects! However, once channels are chosen, two primary challenges remain.

    First, there are limited resources (human, financial, temporal) to develop and post content because there are strains on technical staff to produce required deliverables, let alone content worthy of sharing on social media. Staff are commonly stretched thin because of balancing multiple simultaneous projects, the need to transition to new projects immediately, and trying to find something interesting and/or relevant to share when it may be just another negative survey.

    Second, there are strains on management and administrative staff to manage the business and legal aspects of our contract requirements, along with an associated web of approvals and clearances to post newsworthy project-related information via social media. Occasionally, contracts contain explicit clauses about confidentiality, social media sharing, or what constitutes dissemination of work. More often, nothing is explicit in the contract. Yet as business operators, project and client managers, and ethical professionals, we know we need to exercise caution. Things like sensitive archaeological data and the perception by our clients that we’ve over-shared are tough to manage—the latter of which can seriously risk our ability for repeat business (just because the contract isn’t explicit doesn’t mean they would rather we stay quiet!). The time and effort associated with reaching out to clients to ask for explicit permission and sharing a rough draft of the post is often met with either no response or a rejection. Other times, clients perceive it as their product (“We’re paying for it!”), so they’d rather not have us market the material, at least until the final report is on file in a state office or in some cases not even filed (e.g., private-sector due-diligence work).

    So, what are strategies you use to manage these challenges? Are there ways to create vague social media posts that are relevant, but protect your company from breaking written or unwritten rules? Do you provide staff with administrative or overhead time to develop social media content at the conclusion of projects? Do you have a method for requesting permission from clients that seems to work more often than not? We’d love to hear from you!



  • 02/22/2019 9:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The appropriations bill passed by Congress last week helped stave off another government shutdown. This ensured that CRM professionals across the country are able to continue to working on important federal projects without interruption or delayed payment, experiences reported by many firms at the beginning of the year. However, that is not the only positive development associated with the bill!

    Another win for the CRM industry in this legislation is an increase to the allocations for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). This represents a strong commitment by Congress to preservation efforts across the country. ACRA has been working diligently with its partners in the Coalition for American Heritage to ensure that Congress understands the value of the heritage programs that our member firms work on daily, and this increase shows that those efforts have made a difference.

    You can read more about the funding increase on the Coalition's website, which includes allocated amounts for specific programs and how this budget compares to what was requested by the administration. Let us know your thoughts on the increased appropriations in the comments below!

  • 02/21/2019 9:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post is sponsored by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies.

    The Radiocarbon & Archaeology 9th International Symposium will take place in Athens, Georgia, USA, at the Classic Center in downtown Athens from Monday, May 20 through Friday, May 24, 2019.

    The symposium will showcase current archaeological research that employs radiocarbon, as well as recent developments in the radiocarbon technique. Special thematic sessions will be held in honor of the 70th Anniversary of Libby’s publication of the application of 14C for age determination.

    The Symposium will include a full range of academic sessions, invited lectures, social events, and field trips within and beyond Athens.

    The Symposium organizers have extended the deadline for abstract submissions associated with the conference sessions. The deadline is now February 25 - so you need to hurry!

    The full list of sessions is available here - please consult the session list  to find the right fit for your presentation. Organizers have made it easy for you to submit your abstract with the creation of an online portal.

    Don't miss this opportunity to showcase your work - submit your abstracts by February 25.


  • 02/20/2019 2:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Whether you are negotiating with a potential client, your project team, or embarking on the Section 106 consultation process, CRM success requires agreement and collaboration with other people. The first webinar in ACRA's 2019 series will help CRM practitioners of all levels potentially improve their business outcomes through the art of negotiation.

    Join us on March 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm Eastern to gain more insight into this skill that is vital to the business world (and beyond!). The Art of the Negotiation and Conflict Management will equip you with strategies and frameworks that will help you become a better negotiator.

    Expert provider Anna Schneider of Heritage Business International holds both an M.A. in anthropology and an M.B.A. in business administration. Anna is passionate about using this unique degree combination to bring both archaeological expertise and business know-how to the CRM industry.

    One thing to note: this webinar will only be offered live - meaning you won't be able to access the recording in ACRA Webinars on Demand - and spots are limited, so you need to register TODAY to save your virtual spot.

    Whether you are new to the industry or consider negotiation an integral part of your daily tasks, The Art of Negotiation and Conflict Management will improve your skill base to grow your business. Register today!



  • 02/15/2019 4:14 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Earlier today, we sent out our February monthly member update. That version was missing a link in the section about fostering collaboration between CRM and academia. We have created an updated version with the link to the full communication strategy. ACRA members can access this update here - we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused!

  • 02/14/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    ACRA is pleased to support the African American Burial Grounds Network Act, which was introduced in Congress yesterday by Rep. Don McEachin (D-VA) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). This legislation is consistent with our commitment to providing accurate information about historic resources to communities, developers and government officials.

    The African American Burial Grounds Network Act would:

    • Create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic burial grounds, with the consent of the property owner, that relate to the historic African-American experience;
    • Provide technical assistance to local public, private, state and local partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these burial grounds;
    • Establish educational materials for community members, local groups, and schools about African-American burial grounds; and
    • Make available grants for local groups to research, survey, identify, record, and aid in the preservation of sites within the Network.

    African-American burial grounds are an integral component of the heritage of the United States. Creating and maintaining a network of African-American burial grounds will help communities preserve local history while better informing development decisions and community planning. ACRA is proud to lend its name in support of this legislation.

    What can you do? To build support for the bill, please contact your Member of Congress and ask him/her to cosponsor the African American Burial Grounds Network Act.



  • 02/13/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    This post is authored by Jo Reese, VP/Senior Archaeologist with Archaeological Investigations Northwest, Inc. (AINW) in Portland, Oregon.


    This year, Archaeological Investigations Northwest, Inc., (AINW) offered to have Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as our first ever volunteer service day, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., in keeping with his words:

    "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?”

    AINW offered to support volunteer efforts for this day by paying for the holiday, if the employee participated for at least 4 to 6 hours as a volunteer in a group activity that was aligned with the theme of Doing for Others.

    AINW also collaborated with a local historical society to help them with tasks at their museum, the Zimmerman Historical House.

    • The Zimmerman House Museum is a beautiful turn-of-the-century farmhouse that is down the street from AINW’s headquarters! In keeping with their commitment to help preserve Portland area’s important historical landmarks, several AINW employees descended on the farmhouse to help with landscaping on the museum grounds, and to help with linen folding, inventorying, and other tasks within the museum. The Zimmerman House Museum is managed by the East County Historical Organization (ECHO), who were grateful for the assistance of 14 AINW staff.


    AINW employees participated in several other activities:

    • Indian Creek Natural Area Habitat Restoration

    • Habitat for Humanity ReStore
    • Nadaka Nature Park, for Friends of Trees
    • Oregon Food Bank
    • Hands On Greater Portland with SOLVE

    AINW’s first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service holiday was a resounding success! To learn more of AINW’s participation, visit our website, and look under AINW Provides on our home page.

    Does your firm participate any unique benefits for its employees? Let us know in the comments!

  • 02/12/2019 6:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Do you have a topic that you think would be perfect for a presentation to fellow CRMers? Is there a discussion you think the industry should be having? If so, we want to know!

    The Call for Sessions for the 2019 ACRA Conference is open!

    The ACRA Annual Meeting is a prime venue to exchange ideas and meet new colleagues. It is through member participation that our conference program can expand each year, bringing new ideas and evoking teamwork as we strive to make our industry stronger. Only with your ideas can we craft a well-rounded program that provides value to attendees!

    Using the conference theme as a general guide, sessions can reflect a variety of CRM topics, including business operations, reaching out to the academy, continued education, technological advances, advocacy, and best practices. Sessions can involve an individual speaker, a suite of presenters, or a panel (maximum of four panelists); they can also revolve around a presentation or an interactive activity. Each session will last between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on the topic.

    Click here to learn more about the submission requirements, and hurry - proposals are due March 15!

  • 02/08/2019 10:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Readers can now find relevant news items compiled all in one place! In our CRM Firms in the News series, we feature recent mentions of ACRA member firms and their projects across the country. Was your firm recently featured in a news article or on social media? Send it to us to be included in our next volume of the series!

    • Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is giving back to their local community by establishing a scholarship for students at the University of Mary Washington. Read more about this opportunity for historic preservation students in the Free Lance-Star.
    • Heritage Research Associates Inc. was a part of the efforts to preserve a site in Oregon believed to have been visited by Meriwether Lewis & William Clark. Artifacts found, including tools and stone bowl fragments, suggest that the site is the location of a Chinookan village detailed in journals of the famed explorers. Read more in this piece from the Lewiston Tribune!
    • A person's trash tells a lot about their life, and this is even true for garbage buried for over a century! Staff from Alpine Archaeology had the chance to examine long-buried refuse from the household of Gen. William Jackson Palmer, a wealthy railroad magnate and founder of Colorado Springs. Read more about how these finds are helping historians learn more about the turn-of-the-century life in area in this piece from the Colorado Sun and the video below!

    DiscoverCOS: Archaeological Dig from City of Colorado Springs on Vimeo.

  • 02/07/2019 4:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Many agencies have turned to no collection field strategies in recent years. Unfortunately, these strategies vary widely and are implemented with very little data, so we don’t know if they are effective. Several members of the Collection and Curation Committee have been working with SHA and SAA to develop some best practices to consider if you are developing a scope or preparing a proposal that includes no collection. We welcome your thoughts on this.

    Ralph Bailey, Chair, ACRA Collections Management & Curation Committee

    Best Practices for No-Collection Projects and In-field Analysis in the United States

    The Archaeological Collections Consortium (ACC) includes representatives from the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) who are focused on the use, preservation, and management of archaeological collections. A key ACC goal is to develop and act upon a common platform of objectives that seek to benefit the discipline and ultimately the public for whom archaeological collections are curated in the public trust.

    The ACC is concerned about the growing trends of no-collection, in-field artifact analyses, and collections reburial*. The use of these practices is driven by several factors, including limited availability of collections storage space, costs of curation, pressure among agencies to reduce overall project costs, and concerns among some THPOs and tribes about how their patrimonies are being treated by others once archaeological objects are removed from a site. These practices negatively impact the types and breadth of archaeological collections available for present and future research, interpretation, and education. They impede the archaeologist’s ability to analyze existing artifacts by using future research designs and methods and independently verifying results, actions which are critical to the credibility of an archaeological project and the scientific process in general.  They also run counter to the professional ethics** of the organizations participating in the ACC.

    Furthermore, these strategies are not justified in law, are rarely included in federal or state standards and guidelines, and very little has been published on these topics***. Statutory authority for recovery of archaeological material remains on federal land primarily comes from Sections 106 (compliance) and 110 (resource management) of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). These federal laws were enacted in recognition of the need to preserve and research the enormous historic, cultural, and scientific value that archaeological materials contain for the benefit of the American people. By specifying that such items located on federal land are the property of the federal government, and by systematizing the procedures for the excavation and handling of covered objects, ARPA sought to 1) protect the items from pillage, and 2) by doing so, better enable the American people to learn about and appreciate the lives of those who came before them. Likewise, the NHPA ensures that development considerations are balanced with preservation values, and confirms the public's interest in heritage preservation. Compliance agreements under Section 106 of NHPA require management considerations, which in many cases include archaeological data recovery and curation of the recovered collections. ARPA permits also govern archaeological data recovery and curation of the recovered collections. The federal regulations 36 CFR Part 79 then ensure that the recovered and analyzed collection is deposited in a repository that meets certain standards. Burial in the ground does not meet those standards.

    The ACC is not aware of any published studies that explore the relative costs of no-collection and in-field analysis versus long-term curation to determine where the most significant expenses/savings occur when both follow professional ethics and guidelines.  No-collection strategies might actually cost agencies more than curation if sites must be revisited and reevaluated because collections are not available to verify artifact identifications and specific attributes of those artifacts. Additionally, even when artifacts are not collected during a project, the associated records, whether hard copy or digital, should be assembled as a collection and may be subject to curation fees (Childs et al. 2010; Drew 2010; Kintigh and Altschul 2010).

    Various combinations of no-collection and in-field identification and analysis have been implemented, particularly in the western United States. It is unclear whether these practices were developed using data sets and studies about their benefits and drawbacks or whether an assessment was made of how these practices may run counter to historic preservation laws.  The effectiveness and reproducibility of these practices and their impacts on the archaeological record and future research should be carefully considered by archaeologists and other stakeholders involved in an archaeological investigation.

    Therefore, for all of the reasons stated above, the ACC strongly discourages the use of no-collection, in-field analysis, and collections reburial until further study can be done, with exceptions for the use of no-collection and  in-field analysis in the following circumstances: when a site is subject to a HAZMAT situation (e.g., harmful contamination) and for projects that conform to selected types of surface survey only (e.g., water lines, culverts, power lines, pumphouses, microwave towers). For these few instances when the applications may be appropriate, the ACC offers the following best practices to provide guidance to stakeholders. The goal of these guidelines is to ensure that no-collection and in-field identification and analysis methods—when agreed upon, documented, and adopted—are implemented with appropriate care and ethical consideration. The ACC decided not to provide best practices on reburial at this time because the reasons for reburial and the methods used seem to be widely varied, unevaluated, and unpublished in the United States (an exception is Williams 2011 on reburial for conservation).

    These best practices should be considered interim until more research is conducted on the history, legal foundations, and long-term impacts of no-collection and in-field identification and analysis on the archaeological process (see last section below). Primary stakeholders for these guidelines include government (federal, tribal, state, and local) archaeologists and resource managers, descendent communities, cultural resource management companies, academic archaeologists, students, and professional societies, all of which might participate in developing archaeological research designs.

    The ACC also considers these best practices to provide a framework that can be adjusted to specific archaeological projects and, perhaps, state policies and guidelines. There is considerable regional variation in how prehistoric and historical archaeological investigations are undertaken across the United States, especially during survey projects, which can affect these practices. Factors, such as local flora, topography, and soil type(s), should be considered when choosing appropriate archaeological field methods, as should the guidelines presented below.  

    Best Practices for No-Collection and In-Field Analysis

    • Determine if a no-collection and/or in-field analysis and identification strategy is appropriate for the project.  Consider the following instances when these field methods might not be appropriate:
      • Projects where the discovered sites will yield artifacts that are difficult to identify, are unique, and/or will require precise artifact identification, such as chemical or microscopic analysis, to answer the research questions established for the project. 
      • Projects where accurate artifact identification is critical to determine the eligibility of a site for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
      • Projects where one or more sites are at a high risk of being destroyed through natural (e.g., erosion or climate change) or human (e.g., development or mitigation) causes.
      • Testing and data recovery projects, since the long-term research value of the well-documented contextual associations for these collections will be lost to science. Exceptions might be if a site contains burials or hazardous materials.
    • Prepare to curate the project records. Field notes, maps, photographs, artifact data, background research for the project, and other records associated with any archaeological project are a crucial part of the resulting collection. For a no-collection project, the associated records will constitute the entire collection and, therefore, should be curated in a repository just like records that have associated artifacts. The associated digital records, including all the data about the artifacts found but not collected, should be curated in a repository that has well-established procedures for long-term preservation, management, and accessibility of digital records and data. For federal and many state projects, the collections must be curated in a repository that meets the standards in 36 CFR Part 79, and the repository must be identified prior to the start of fieldwork. It is strongly recommended that the repository is identified in the project report.
    • Consider no-collection and in-field analysis methods in agency or other program planning. The use of no-collection and/or in-field analysis is usually decided during project scoping and are identified in a Request for Proposal for a contracted archaeological project or Scope of Work/Performance Work Statement. However, the efficacy of no-collection and/or in-field analysis needs to be considered at a programmatic level and should be addressed in agency/installation/university planning documents (i.e., Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plans). Agencies and university programs, in particular, should find opportunities to engage stakeholders in discussion and meaningful consultation regarding the merit of these methods, including during Section 106 consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act, to inform scoping of specific projects. Any positions of agreement and disagreement should be recorded in writing, used for future planning, and curated with the project’s associated records.  The following considerations related to no-collection and/or in-field analysis should be assessed by stakeholders during any opportunities for consultation:
      • The results of background research to identify the potential for archaeological resources, including previous land use; geomorphological processes that have affected the project area; previous archaeological investigations in the project area and surrounding area; and, when appropriate, historical sources (e.g., original maps, deeds, birth records).  If no archaeology has been done in the area, then carefully consider whether no-collection and/or in-field identification and analysis is appropriate at all.
      • The results of examining existing collections from the project and surrounding area, if available, to determine the range of potential artifact classes and corresponding cultural time periods. If several artifacts were difficult to identify in the existing collections, then this information should be factored into the appropriateness of no-collection and/or in-field identification and analysis for the new project.
      • The proposed collection strategy (i.e., collection, no-collection, limited no-collection when diagnostics are kept, or no-collection with some sampling at a complex site) to be used, including the reasons for collecting versus not collecting artifactsthat are appropriate to the project at hand.
      • Details about the documentation process. This should include the qualifications of those who will be responsible for field analysis and artifact identification; the process that will be used to record the presence/absence and identification of the artifacts; and the standardized information that will be recorded about each artifact found.
      • The location where artifact identification and documentation will be performed during the project (e.g., at the location of discovery, field laboratory, or non-field laboratory). A dedicated laboratory—a separated space away from the site itself—is recommended for artifact identification, analysis, and documentation to ensure that the process is performed accurately. Discuss the relative benefits of in-field vs. laboratory analysis, if the former is intended to be used.
      • The method to be used to test the accuracy of in-field artifact identification and analysis (see “Verify Research Results” below).
      • Final disposition of the recovered artifacts, including the rationale for, and location where they will be relocated at the site, if no-collection and/or in-field identification and analysis are used.
    • Develop a contingency plan. All project scopes of work designed with a no-collection and/or in-field identification and analysis methods should have a contingency if, during the project, it becomes clear that the method(s) is not appropriate.  For example, a survey anticipating late prehistoric sites might encounter an early Paleoindian component, which might justify modification of collection strategies. Therefore, project scopes of work should include: 
      • Criteria that identify when no-collection and/or in-field identification and analysis should be reevaluated.
      • A clause in the Scope of Work and/or contract that allows the archaeologist performing the work to recommend a change in scope and, when applicable, allows the project proponent to modify the scope.
      • An alternate plan for collection recovery that would be triggered in these circumstances, including consideration of an appropriate budget and how funding would be acquired to carry out collection recovery, analysis, and curation.
    • Define appropriate in-field analysis procedures: Many government agencies and some cultural resource management firms have a technical field manual for archaeological investigations. Such manuals should include the following information for projects involving no-collection surveys and/or in-field identification and analysis:
      • Explicit information on how to identify and record the potential artifact types, especially for prehistoric and early historical period sites (e.g., pre-industrial).  Since artifact types vary by region across the United States, pertinent resources to assist with this step are available through State Archaeologists, State Historic Preservation Offices, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, state historical societies, and others. Provide a full citation to any books or articles from which typological definitions are derived.
      • Standardized forms for each anticipated artifact type for field technicians to record key information about each artifact found, including, but not limited to: provenience, including descriptive information about context (e.g., high density artifact concentration; on top of a visible feature); description; dimensions; diagnostic/decorative elements; and degree of fragmentation.
      • Standardized procedures for photographing cleaned artifacts using current technology appropriate for the project. A representative percentage of artifacts should be photographed using a sampling strategy that is appropriate to the project goals. A dimensional scale should be used to ensure that future researchers, resource managers, and persons conducting background research about the site and region have enough information to make appropriate decisions about the artifact type. The manual should include explicit information on how to decide which artifacts to photograph when there are many comparable examples;  how to select a representative sample size of an artifact type; the number of faces of the artifact to photograph based on the artifact type; and how to record the photographs in standardized photo logs and/or by metadata tagging.
      • A strategy for identifying and documenting artifacts that are difficult to classify.  Identify the qualified material culture specialist(s) and/or institutions who will consult on artifact identification.  Provide the procedure to follow if unexpected diagnostics or other artifacts are found when no one on the crew is qualified to identify them.  Define circumstances when diagnostics and/or other artifacts will be retained for curation and which material culture specialist(s) will make that decision (see “Develop a contingency plan” above).
    • Train field technicians. Prior to fieldwork, it is critical to train all field technicians to identify and record artifact types specific to the survey area, region, and cultural time periods expected to be represented.  The training should complement the information in the technical manual provided and include:
      • How to operate any hand-held devices that are used to record artifact location and conduct artifact identification.
      • How to clean artifacts, whether in the field or lab, to ensure that artifact identification is accurate and photo documentation is good-to-excellent quality.
      • How to accurately identify artifacts using replicable artifact classifications and standardized forms.
        • Develop an exercise to test field technicians on artifact identification prior to starting fieldwork. The exercise should be overseen by appropriate material culture specialists.
      • Who to go to with questions about identifying particular artifacts. If possible or practical, discuss the use of mobile devices to take photos and who to send them to for identification.
      • How to accurately photograph artifacts using appropriate, current technology for permanent documentation purposes and how to complete a photo log or to record metadata about the photographs.  
    • Verify research results. Within the first couple of days of the project, the accuracy and adequacy of in-field artifact identification/documentation should be tested for each person tasked with the work.  Any inaccuracies must be corrected in the forms already completed, and new training should be initiated to correct the procedures to ensure standardization and accuracy. Periodic testing of the accuracy of in-field artifact analysis should occur to ensure consistent procedures and accurate data collection.

    Moving Forward

    The ACC and others (Heilen and Altschul 2013) advocate for more research on no-collection and in-field identification and analysis practices across the United States. Some critical topics to explore, which are ripe for dissertation or thesis work, include:

    • The driving forces or reasons behind the use of these practices to better understand how pervasive they are. The ACC recognizes that limited availability of collections storage space; high curation costs; pressure from government agencies at all levels to reduce overall project costs; and tribal feedback and concern are some of the reasons, but are there others? How do the reasons break down across stakeholder groups and in different regions of the United States? How are those reasons impacting the frequency of the practices across the country?
    • How and when were these practices developed by different stakeholder groups? Were considerations given to the effects of these practices on future research potential or replicability of the data created and interpreted at different types of sites, or by project phases (i.e., survey, testing, and data recovery)? 
    • Other than the study by Heilen and Altschul (2013), has any research been done to determine the accuracy of the data created during projects using no-collection and/or in-field artifact identification by different stakeholder groups or by region? Are there any other testing strategies that compare and evaluate the data from no-collection projects with data from projects that collected artifacts to identify if there are meaningful differences in the information recovered? If there are meaningful differences, what are some recommended solutions?
    • Where are these practices codified in law, regulation, policy, and/or guidance with a breakdown by stakeholder group (e.g., federal, tribal, state, and local agencies; academia; private developers)? What is the range of variation in the methods prescribed and what might be motivating any variation found?
    • How can in-field artifact identification and analysis be further improved through training, technology, or other means to increase the accuracy and reproducibility of the data and the interpretation of the sites that rely on those data?
    • What are the relative costs of no-collection and in-field analysis versus the costs of long-term curation of both artifacts and associated records, including digital records, when all are done appropriately and follow professional ethics and guidelines?  How does this vary by region of the United States? How does the cost of curation compare to the cost of revisiting a site when questions arise, and artifacts are not available to verify conclusions?
    • What are the possible impacts of no-collection and in-field artifact identification and analysis on the dissemination of the results of the archaeological investigation, as well as public outreach and education for investigations that use these strategies? Consideration needs to be given to the future number and types of artifacts available in museums for exhibition and research and other venues for public outreach and education.
    • What are the possible effects of no-collection strategies on the commercialization of the archaeological record?  If fewer artifacts are curated, how might the laws of supply and demand affect the commercial value of artifacts obtained either legally or illegally? Will this encourage or discourage looting of archaeological sites?
    • Artifact reburial is often associated with no-collection and in-field artifact identification and analysis****. Research related to reburial is needed on a number of topics. These include the reasons for artifact reburial; best methods to ensure that reburial will not be mistaken for an archaeological site or cultural component of a site in the future; the physical and chemical impacts on artifacts that are reburied;  whether reburied artifacts are ever retrieved to evaluate the accuracy of previous artifact identifications or to test new hypotheses; and the potential impact of reburial on public perception of, interest in, and knowledge about archaeological investigations.

    In conclusion, the ACC contends that the practices of no-collection, in-field analysis, and collections reburial run counter to historic preservation laws and professional ethics. In only two circumstances—the event of a hazardous situation and for some kinds of surface survey—does the ACC recognize that no-collection and in-field analysis could be utilized. Additional comparative studies on this topic are needed; the few that exist clearly demonstrate that no-collection and in-field analyses cannot match analysis completed in the laboratory, in terms of replicability and accuracy. However, given that no-collection projects are proceeding without clear answers to the questions outlined above, the ACC offers these best practices for no-collection projects and in-field artifact identification and analysis as interim guidance.  When further research into the legality, legitimacy, and cost-effectiveness of these archaeological field strategies is completed, this guidance can be amended. In drafting these initial best practices, the ACC is making an effort to fill an informational void for those who undertake such projects while trying to preserve a breadth of archaeological collections available for present and future research, interpretation, and education.

    This statement is available in its entirety with footnotes and references here.

    Footnotes

    *Several of the terms used in this document are defined by the ACC in a compendium of definitions jointly published in The SAA Archaeological Record (2016, 16(1):41-43), SHA Newsletter (2015, 48(4):4-6), and ACRA’s February Monthly Member Update (2017).

    **ACRA Code of Ethics: http://acra-crm.org/code-of-ethics, SHA Ethics Principles: https://sha.org/about-us/ethics-statement/, SAA Principles of Archaeological Ethics: http://saa.org/AbouttheSociety/PrinciplesofArchaeologicalEthics/tabid/203/Default.aspx

    ***For exceptions, see Butler 1979; Griset and Kodack 1998; Heilen 2013; Heilen and Altschul 2013; Heilen et al. 2008; and Williams 2011. Only Butler 1979 and Heilen and Altschul 2013 are in peer-reviewed publications.

    ****The ACC is not including immediate reburial of large organic objects for preservation purposes in its consideration of artifact reburial.





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