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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V. Background Research
Background research is a necessary component to fieldwork and allows the researcher to form a basic understanding of the environmental, geological and cultural history of the region and project area. Preliminary background searches also serve as the basis for developing archaeological and historical contexts for the region under study. A thorough knowledge of previously recorded cultural resources and environmental characteristics of a region or project area allows the researcher to formulate predictions for the types of archaeological sites that might be encountered during fieldwork. Through a synthesis of this information, strategies for conducting fieldwork may be developed and implemented.
Background research must be conducted prior to the initiation of any fieldwork for this to be successful. Documents available at the WVSHPO include United States Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangle maps containing the location of known archaeological sites and previously surveyed project areas, and corresponding archaeological site form files. WVSHPO also maintains a library of cultural resource management technical reports produced for Section 106 projects conducted in the state, as well as county-wide historical survey files, National Register Files and Coal Heritage Survey files. There are a number of other research facilities available for use including the West Virginia State Archives in Charleston, the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology and the Geological and Economic Survey at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and the Eastern Coal Fields Archives in Bluefield. The West Virginia Archeological Society maintains a substantial collection of documents at the South Charleston Library as well. Researchers should contact local historical societies, libraries and courthouses for project-specific information, and should examine artifact collections held privately or in museums when possible.
Prior to initiating Phase II fieldwork, the consultant must conduct additional background research concerning the environmental, archaeological and historical background of the region. The consultant should conduct limited, comparative research on a regional level to identify potential data gaps in the area. A research design should be developed to serve as a guide to fieldwork. The research design should formulate specific questions to be addressed during fieldwork. Research questions should facilitate the determination of eligibility for the resource.
During Phase III investigations, the background research should be inclusive and concentrate on those aspects stipulated in the research design. For historic sites, the background research should include extensive document searches from such sources as local histories, deeds, diaries, correspondence, and journals. Again, the research design should formulate specific questions that can be addressed during fieldwork. Potential research questions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
! How does the site fit into known regional settlement patterns?

! How did its inhabitants exploit locally available plant, animal and mineral resources?

! What resources were available?

! What are the temporal and/or cultural affiliations of the site?

! What is the research potential of this site?


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