For specific properties, NRHP and NHL evaluation should proceed by first completing a property designation matrix, which provides a basic overview of condition and research potential, and can serve as a guide to the preparation of detailed nomination statements. Procedures by which the matrix is to be used are provided elsewhere, in the national context. How specific research questions and themes outlined in the matrix apply to southeastern Paleoindian properties, however, were discussed previously in this regional context.
NHL Property Type and Integrity
Three levels of integrity are employed in the present NHL theme study, High, Moderate, and Low. Properties whose integrity is High are potential NHLs or have national-level NRHP significance. Sites with High integrity have clearly identified Paleoindian component(s) in secure context, and with precise calendric dating. That is, the geologic and sedimentary context of the assemblage(s) are well documented, with sources of intrusion or disturbance recognized and controlled, and the age of the deposits ascertained using one or more absolute dating procedures, such as radiocarbon or OSL dating. Sufficient age determinations must, however, have been obtained from samples in secure context to ensure confidence in the results. Individual dates, accordingly, or even large numbers of dates from controversial associations, will probably not be considered sufficient, unless supported by other kinds of evidence, such as unambiguous geological or biotic associations. Where materials for absolute dating are not available, the assemblage(s) must be of highly unusual significance. In the Southeast, properties with high integrity and national level significance include Cactus Hill, Sloan, Dust Cave, and various sites in the Allendale, South Carolina, Aucilla River, Florida, Christian County, Kentucky, and Nottoway River, Virginia localities.
Properties whose integrity is Moderate are potential NHLs or have national- or state-level NRHP significance. Sites with Moderate integrity have Paleoindian component(s) that are to some extent mixed with later materials, in moderately secure context, and with relative rather than absolute dating. That is, the geologic and sedimentary context may be somewhat uncertain, with some mixing or reworking of the deposits. Control for disturbance is less secure. The age of the deposits is also somewhat less secure, and may depend upon stratigraphic relationships, seriation, or cross-dating with materials securely dated elsewhere. That is, sites with Dalton points are assumed to date between ca. 10,500 and 9,900 rcbp/12,500 to 11,250 B.P., regardless of where they are found, because that is the age range currently accepted based on an evaluation of known dates and contexts (Goodyear 1982). As we have seen, however, the actual temporal occurrence for Dalton points appears to vary appreciably, and may extend well beyond these inferred starting and ending dates, making use of cross-dating less secure than absolute dating. Southeastern sites with moderate integrity are widespread, and include most assemblages found on conflated surfaces, where distinguishing Paleoindian remains from materials dating later is sometimes difficult or impossible. The Quad locality in northern Alabama, which yielded numerous Paleoindian points, but also tens of thousands of later diagnostics as well, is one such example.
Properties whose integrity is Low are not considered NHL candidates. If they were to be considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, it would probably be at the state or local level of significance. Sites with Low integrity have presumed Paleoindian components that are in highly disturbed context, and whose age may be uncertain or questionable. Lithic scatters lacking diagnostics, absolute dates, or sound stratigraphic contexts are examples of such sites, as are sites with diagnostics whose deposits are severely disturbed or are thoroughly mixed with materials of later periods. Sites yielding low numbers of Paleoindian points as well as later materials in surface context would tend to have Low integrity.
Isolated diagnostic projectile point finds, of which thousands are known from the Southeast, are a special Paleoindian property class of great importance for research purposes, but whose integrity is considered Low, and hence have minimal potential for inclusion on the NRHP, or designation as an NHL. Isolated finds are thus typically not considered eligible for inclusion on the NRHP, unless the artifact itself is of exceptional significance. There is one exception to this. Groups of culturally related but otherwise isolated Paleoindian remains found in connection with diagnostic land-forms or other paleogeological, geomorphological, or paleoenvironmental contexts may be nominated as contributing properties within a district. That is, isolated finds, taken collectively, may under certain conditions (i.e., high density, significant paleoenvironmental associations) be considered important enough to warrant inclusion on the NRHP or as part of an NHL.
Evaluation Standards: NRHP Criteria
The presence of any of the following characteristics tends to automatically make a southeastern site yielding Paleoindian materials ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP:
Detailed reasons why sites meet NRHP or NHL eligibility status should accompany all such determinations, and should be expressed in terms of how they can yield information important to history or prehistory. Given how rare Paleoindian sites are in the region, full justification should also be provided when Paleoindian properties are determined to be ineligible for inclusion on the NRHP, or for designation as an NHL.