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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Deep Testing
Deep testing is often necessary to determine if certain landscapes or topographic settings contain deeply buried archaeological deposits. Deep testing is also used to determine if deeply buried cultural deposits exist and to collect information on site structure and site formation processes. Appropriate landscapes include but are not limited to flood plains, terraces, and colluvial/alluvial fans.
During Phase I and II investigations, deep testing is conducted to determine the presence, absence, and nature of buried archaeological deposits. A variety of deep testing methods and techniques may be used, including backhoe trenching, hand-augering, truck-mounted borings to remove intact soil cores, and the examination of cut-bank profiles. The methods used depend upon the topographic setting, the size of the project area, and consultation with WVSHPO staff. Representative photographs and soil profiles, as well as detailed illustrations and descriptions of soil strata and composition, must be included in the technical report for any method chosen. Deep testing methods are used to supplement archaeological investigations, and are not a substitute for STPs or test units. The WVSHPO staff recommends that a professional geomorphologist be consulted during Phase II investigation to develop a geomorphological history and to define site formation processes within the project area. This information must be included in the final report.
The number and placement of backhoe trenches is dependent upon the landscape and should be determined in consultation with WVSHPO staff. Backhoe trenches should be excavated until Pleistocene or channel lag deposits are reached, if possible. Trenches should be excavated in such a way that soil strata may be examined, profiled, recorded, photographed and sampled safely. A complete and detailed profile of any trench must be included in the technical report, including the depth, length, and width of the trench. Additionally, the location of each backhoe trench must be mapped and included in the technical report. Photographs of profiles must be taken with a photo board and vertical scale. The ground surface of the trench must be clearly visible in the photograph. It is the consultant’s responsibility to ensure that all deep testing is performed in compliance with OSHA standards while attaining the necessary soils and resource information.
In order to correlate cultural and geomorphological data on landform and site formation processes, a .50 x .50 m test unit must be excavated along one wall of each backhoe trench. Units must be excavated in 10 cm arbitrary levels within artificial or natural soil strata. All excavated soils must be passed through a 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth. Test units are not necessary for each backhoe trench, if soil columns are also being gathered.


During Phase III investigations, deep testing is often conducted to facilitate and guide data recovery efforts. Identification of archaeological and geological strata in backhoe trenches can coordinate excavations of deeply buried deposits. Understanding the geomorphological development of the area is as significant as understanding the cultural development of the site.

Again, the WVSHPO staff recommends that a professional geomorphologist be consulted.

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