Survey Methods

At NARP, one of the major ways we work with and for parks in Region 1 is by providing experties on different types of surveys. These surveys range from archeological excavation to systematic metal detecting. NARP not only helps parks execute these surveys but also aids in the adviosory process for when a park needs to hire archeological contractors.
Phase I survey at Great Island, CACO 2012
An excavation crew working on a Phase 1 survey at the Cape Cod National Seashore

Archeological Survey

Archeological survey begins with careful background research and a research question guiding the work to be done. From there, a shovel test pit survey is conducted along regular intervals, called a Phase I survey. If something is found that warrants a more intensive look, such as for determining National Register of Historic Places eligibility and determining the bounds of the site, a Phase II investigation would take place. If need be, a larger-scale and more intensive excavation called a Phase III excavation will take place to prevent data loss from construction projects or other threats to the site such as erosion or climatic forces.
Archeologist, Meg Wilkes, Starting a GPR survey at PETE, Whitehill Field Quarters, 2020
Archeologist, Margaret Wilkes starting a GPR survey at Petersburg National Battlefield, 2020

Geophysical Survey Methods

Geophysical Survey Methods can map buried features of a site based on contrasting physical properties of those features and the matrix they are in. These methods can create images or map of the subsurface without excavation, as well as prioritize areas of investigation. Geophysical Survey Methods can also be spatially integrated with other archeological data to provide a comprehensive record of a site. Some of the survey methods NARP uses include but are not limited to: Ground Penetrating Radar, Magnetometry, Conductivity or Magnetic Susceptibility, and Resistivity.
Joel Dukes Metal Detecting at SARA 2019
Archeologist, Joel Dukes walks a metal detecting transect at Saratoga National Battlefield, 2019

Metal Detecting Survey

Metal detectors have not always been a traditional tool utilized by archeologists, as these tools have often been employed to loot and destroy archeological sites. In the last few decades though, archeologists have started to recognize metal detecting as a useful tool in surveying large landscapes, interpreting battlefields, and identifying historic structures with limited to no excavation. At NARP, we have been trained to use metal detectors with discriminating capabilities, which identify different types of metal to limit ground disturbance and promote selective sampling in the field. With these high quality tools, combined with proper training, and surveying and sampling strategies, metal detecting surveys have proven to be an extraordinarily useful method for NARP.

Last updated: June 24, 2022