Archeology in the Parks Around Washington, D.C.
The National Capital Region (NCR) of the National Park Service administers 88,000 acres of parklands in portions of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and all of the District of Columbia. The parks in and around our nation's capital contain an incredible variety of archeological remains representing more than 13,000 years of changing human lifeways and different cultures — prehistoric workshops, stone quarries, campsites, and villages; sites of seventeenth – through nineteenth–century plantations, houses, kilns, mills, forges, and foundries; numerous Civil War sites such as battlefields, fortifications, and campgrounds; and the ruins of nineteenth-century canal structures. The National Capital Region's Archeology Program (RAP) provides for the study, protection, preservation, and interpretation of archeological sites and their collections located in or collected from NCR's parks. The major activities of the RAP include: locating previously unknown archeological sites by conducting surveys; evaluating the relative significance of specific sites for possible nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (a listing of significant cultural resources); processing, cataloging, analyzing, and caring for archeological collections; volunteer participation in field and laboratory work; public interpretation; and, protecting archeological resources through public education and enforcement of Federal historic preservation laws.
In the NCR, archeological excavations may be carried out by the RAP at park request, prior to ground disturbing activities, or to answer specific research questions about the past. These investigations may combine archeology with other disciplines to gain a better understanding of the area and the people who once lived here.