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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Excavation Units
Phase II Investigations
During a Phase II investigation, the placement of excavation units should be based on data gathered during the Phase I. Excavation units should also be placed so that the optimum amount of information is gathered without destroying the integrity of the site. Excavation units should be placed within a grid-coordinate system to ensure continuity. Units must be hand-excavated and at least 1x1 m on a side. Units may also be 1x2 m, or 2x2 m, but the unit size that is selected must be used consistently. Hand-excavated units should be excavated in 10 cm arbitrary levels within cultural or natural soil stratigraphy. In situations where soil strata are compacted or difficult to discern, an investigator may also use 5 cm arbitrary levels. All units must be excavated at least two levels (20 cm) below cultural deposits. All excavated sediments must be passed through 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth. Two contiguous walls of each test unit must be troweled, profiled and photographed.
If cultural features or stratified cultural deposits are encountered during testing, an appropriate sampling strategy must be used. A detailed discussion concerning feature excavation and sampling strategies is found in the sections on Feature Identification and Sampling Procedures.
Test units placed near standing structures or foundation remnants may be excavated in the English System of measurement in accordance with current and acceptable historic archaeological excavation techniques. If structures and foundations are not evident, however, excavations should follow metric excavation techniques.

When rockshelters are evaluated, excavation strategy should take into consideration the types of site formation processes that developed these resources. Rockshelters represent a delicate and fragile archaeological resource, and contain sensitive environmental information. Because of the nature of deposition found in rockshelters, cultural deposits may be quite shallow, and may contain multiple occupation levels. The number and placement of test units within a rockshelter is dependent upon the size of the shelter to be tested. If possible, rockshelter deposits should be excavated in 5 cm arbitrary levels within cultural or naturally deposited sediments. If 5 cm levels are not possible, the investigator may wish to increase vertical control by obtaining x, y and z coordinates for diagnostic artifacts. If activity loci are defined, this method of vertical control may be used for other artifact classes. All soils should be passed through hardware cloth with mesh no larger than 1/4-inch, although mesh as fine as 1/8-inch may be used if necessary. At least one test unit should be placed outside the drip line of the shelter. Appropriate excavation of features and sampling strategies should follow those outlined below.
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Phase III Investigations
During Phase III investigation, test units should be placed in order to optimize data recovery. Phase II investigations and the data recovery plan should guide the placement of test units at the site. For example, the use of block excavations may facilitate access to deeply buried

archaeological deposits. Test units should be used where the use of heavy machinery (such as belly pan scrapers) would negatively impact archaeological deposits. The data recovery effort should include testing of both high and low density areas.





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