Guidelines for Phase I, II, and III archaeological Investigations and Technical Report Preparation Prepared by the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office Written by Patrick Trader Edited by Joanna Wilson Preface



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Shovel Test Probes
When ground cover exceeds 25%, shovel test probes (STPs), must be used to locate cultural resources. Shovel tests are used to define areas of low, moderate and high artifact densities in order to guide the placement of excavation units. At a minimum, shovel test transects should:
a). adequately cover project corridors (e.g. follow a project centerline and both

right-of-way limits for corridors); and


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b). be placed systematically on a metric grid or in transects on land parcels.


Shovel test transects should be placed at 10-15 m intervals over the entirety of the project area. Shovel test pits must be a minimum of .50 x .50 m in diameter and excavated into subsoil or at least 10 cm into archaeologically sterile sediments. All excavated soils must be passed through 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth. Representative profiles and/or photographs of STPs, including Munsell descriptions, must be included in technical reports.
If an archaeological site is identified, a detailed plan map indicating the location of both positive and negative shovel test probes must accompany the report. For surveys with large APEs, the map should indicate locations where shovel testing occurred. These areas may be outlined with cross-hatching.

When slope gradients exceed 20%, the ground surface is flooded or waterlogged, or landscapes are extensively altered or disturbed, STPs will not be necessary. All areas not shovel tested must be fully documented by photographs and indicated on maps in the technical report.

When a positive STP occurs, subsequent shovel tests must be placed at 5 m intervals in all cardinal directions (radials) until two negative shovel tests in a row are encountered. Testing of positive radials is not necessary if site boundaries have been adequately defined through other methods.
When historic structures greater than 50 years of age are encountered, shovel tests must be placed around the perimeter of each structure in order to determine if historic archaeological deposits are present.
A distinction should be made between a rock overhang and rockshelter. A rock overhang is used to define absence of human occupation, while the term “rockshelter” is used when evidence of human occupation is identified. When rock overhangs are encountered during pedestrian survey, the floor should be inspected to determine the presence/absence of cultural materials. If cultural material is not evident on the floor, then a shovel test probe must be excavated to determine the presence of cultural materials.




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