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!
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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?”
"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.
AINW employees participated in several other activities:
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!
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!
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!
DiscoverCOS: Archaeological Dig from City of Colorado Springs on Vimeo.
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
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:
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.
*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.
This post is authored by Kye Miller, Senior Project Director at PaleoWest Archaeology.
At the dawn of my career as an archaeologist, like most of us, I learned to draft site sketch maps with a compass and pacing, all forms and logs were kept on paper, and transects were determined from a compass bearing. Fast forward to 2019 and I haven’t used paper in the field or office for over seven years. We are now training newly graduated “green” field technicians exclusively with digital methods: GPS units, iDevice data management and mapping, photogrammetry, and so on. The newer generations of cultural resource managers will likely never know the pleasure of carrying a handheld compass, lined and graph paper and pencil, and paper topographic maps. These tools, and much more, are rapidly being replaced with digital devices and applications.
Digital methods, such as the PaleoWay system employed by PaleoWest Archaeology and systems developed by our partner Codifi Paperless Solutions, allow archaeologists to significantly reduce workloads (primarily data entry and digitization), errors, and ultimately the cost for conducting cultural resource projects, while increasing efficiency, accuracy, and quality of data collection. In the summer of 2014, PaleoWest Archaeology conducted the first large-scale all-digital data recovery project on a Colonial-Pioneer period ballcourt village along the Santa Cruz River, north of Tucson, Arizona. The project developers required a tight schedule and employing all-digital methods allowed us to collect quality data faster than ever before to meet a nearly impossible deadline, resulting in the identification and excavation of an adobe ballcourt, over one hundred pithouses, and hundreds of burials and extramural features.
I’ve observed mixed reactions to digital methods in CRM. Some more seasoned CRM practitioners are hesitant to utilize the new technology, often seemingly originating from a general lack of knowledge of digital technology coupled with a lifetime of traditional record keeping. The younger generation is more amenable to, and excited about, the transition to digital methods and, with their reliance on digital devices in their daily lives, typically requires fewer hours of training. Most tend to envision a bright future that improves the way we document and manage invaluable cultural resources.