Old St. Patricks Cathedral Cemetary
Old St. Patricks Cathedral Cemetery

AHRS posses the experience and expertise to complete all levels of archaeological investigations. We offer a full range of archaeological services, including Phase I, II and III assessments, surveys, excavations, and osteology services. The process usually conforms to a general framework of assessment/survey phases, beginning with a Phase IA documentary study and IB Field testing potentially ending with a full Phase III archaeological mitigation/data recovery. Where project impacts can be avoided, minimized or mitigated, most projects only require Phase I and/or II for the proposed undertaking.

Assessment/Survey Process

Initial Environmental Review

In order to determine if the CRM process is necessary, applicants usually provide initial information to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) or the appropriate local agency (such as the City of New York-Landmarks Preservation Commission). This information generally includes the initial proposed action. The regulatory agency reviews this information and makes a determination on the potential effect, thus initiating the CRM process.

Phase IA Documentary Study

If the regulatory agency determines construction may impact possible buried historic structures or other historically significant cultural resources, or if the project area is listed on the City, State, or National Register of Historic Places, or if the property falls within a City, State, or National Historic District, the agency requires a Phase IA Documentary Study be undertaken (conducted by a qualified CRM firm). This study incorporates regional historical and site-specific information with an analysis of historic maps into a single report. The report then makes recommendations as to whether or not the property has the potential for buried prehistoric or historic remains being uncovered during the project. In general, the coordination effort, once the regulatory agency makes the initial determination that a Phase IA is required, is minimal. A CRM firm will produce the required Phase IA Report, which the client will approve prior to sending to the regulatory agency for formal approval. If the report determines that there is no significant potential for prehistoric or historic material, the cultural resource process ends at this stage. If the report determines that there may be potential to encounter significant prehistoric or historic material within the project area, the next phase begins.

Phase IB Field Testing

The second phase of the CRM process is Phase IB Field Testing. Phase IB testing involves small-scale excavation by shovel or small excavator to determine the site’s absence or presence for buried prehistoric or historic material. The CRM firm deploys an appropriate team to excavate a limited number of Standardized Test Pits (STPs) and/or larger Test Units by hand, although the assistance of mechanical equipment may be required depending on the ground surface. This is done to determine if the materials remaining below ground are culturally significant beyond what the written record provides. Cultural materials may include architectural remnants, prehistoric and historic era artifacts, or human remains. Prior to the commencement of Phase IB field testing, the client and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed testing protocol/scope of work developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IA and the client’s proposed project plan. Then physical testing can begin. Once fieldwork is completed, laboratory analysis of the materials recovered is required. A general rule is that for every one week spent in the field at least two weeks are required for laboratory work. During this process artifacts are washed, analyzed, and recorded in a digital database. This information is then synthesized into the final Phase IB Report, which must meet the approval of the SHPO or local government historic agency. If the recovered materials are determined not to be significant, the cultural resource process ends at this stage. If the recovered materials are determined to be significant, the next phase begins. In some cases monitoring by a professional archaeologist can occur in lieu of field testing depending on the site conditions and history. Monitoring requires that the archaeologist be on site during excavation portions of the construction project to ensure there is no disturbance to significant cultural resources. If the archaeologist determines there to be significant resources being impacted during the excavation, he or she may temporarily halt the excavation until a further determination of the nature of exposed resources can be made.

Phase II Field Testing

Phase II testing employs wider excavation testing through a larger number of both STPs and excavation units. This is to determine the extent and nature of any buried culturally significant archaeological resources and its eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to the commencement of Phase II field testing, the client and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed testing protocol/scope of work developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IB and the client’s proposed project. The same laboratory procedures outlined for Phase IB testing are followed in the course of Phase II investigations.

Phase III Mitigation

If the site is determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and project redesign to avoid the site is not possible a Phase III Mitigation/Data Recovery is required. This is a full excavation of the archaeological site in project site. Phase III work occurs only when all the other steps indicate that a major archaeologically significant site remains beneath the project area. Sites that proceed to a Phase III are most likely considered eligible for the National Register. If a project proceeds to this phase, the site owners, the contractors, and the SHPO or local governing agency generally enact a Memorandum of Understanding and/or Agreement (MOU/MOA). This document outlines what type of work will be done, why, how, and the projected outcome. In addition, prior to the commencement of field excavation, the client and regulatory agency review and approve a proposed data recovery plan of action developed by the CRM firm based on the results of the Phase IB and/or II and the client’s proposed project plan.

Archaeological/Construction Monitoring

Mostly undertaken within urban environments or developed properties as part of the Phase IB process. Construction monitoring is most common in places such as cities or and may, in some circumstances, satisfy Phase IB and Phase II testing requirements. This process requires an archaeologist to be on site during earth moving activities in archaeologically sensitive areas.

Forensic Archaeology

Our In-house and on-call forensic staff allows us to handle all situations in a timely, discrete and expeditious manner.