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27 ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCE SYNTHESES Although several DOTs employ some form of predictive modeling as a planning tool, there has been no consistent A few DOTs are creating syntheses to assist in evaluating and approach to the creation, use, and maintenance of these mod- managing problematic types of archaeological resources. els, which is also the case for modeling efforts among DoD Some site types are problematic because they cannot be easily installations. In addition, at times these models do not oper- associated with a particular time period or culture; others are ate as originally expected. The Minnesota SHPO archaeolo- so numerous that they are encountered in high frequencies in gist, for example, noted that neither the SHPO nor the DOT almost every transportation project. The purpose of these syn- exclusively relies on the Mn/Model to determine where theses is to establish a framework for determining the National archaeological surveys should or should not be conducted. It Register eligibility of these sites and to develop guidance for was determined that if the model was exclusively relied on, their treatment if they are affected by DOT projects. more surveys would be required than those suggested by experience-based judgmental models. The Nevada DOT, in consultation with the SHPO, has developed syntheses for several types of archaeological One of the goals of this synthesis study was to identify resources in different parts of the state. A synthesis of infor- future research needs for improving the management of mation on rock circle sites in Nevada and surrounding states archaeological investigations. The survey questionnaires allowed the DOT to identify categories of this site type for asked respondents to list the types of tools and research they which a lot of data had already been collected, and categories would like to see in the future. Interestingly, the majority of that were not well understood. This information guides the DOTs' responses focused on pre-project planning. investigations and National Register evaluations for this site Several called for the development of historic contexts. The type. The Nevada rock circle synthesis included a literature Pennsylvania FHWA division office, for example, would like review, compilation of an annotated bibliography, construc- to see a historic context on lithic scatters. FHWA is consider- tion of a database, and plotting of rock circle sites on U.S. ing a 2-year study to develop a historic context for this site Geological Survey topographic maps. The synthesis report type. Context development would involve testing and analyz- contained written descriptions and photographs of rock cir- ing a sample of these sites across the state. The goal of this cle features to aid future identification efforts. The report also effort would be to address issues of eligibility and to define included a recordation form for this site type so that future standard treatment plans. documentation would be standardized (31). Several DOTs identified the need for historic contexts on The Nevada syntheses, including the one for the rock cir- lithic scatters. The DOTs also recommended the develop- cle sites, were funded through project-specific programs. ment of historic contexts for 19th-century farmstead sites and When a National Register eligible site was going to be 20th-century archaeological sites. If state DOTs fund the cre- affected by a project, the DOT examined the expected scien- ation of historic contexts, the Nevada DOT cautioned, they tific contributions and public benefit if the site was to be must ensure that the resulting historic contexts are linked to excavated through a data recovery program. If the data transportation project and development needs rather than recovery would not result in a valuable contribution, funds serving academic research needs. that would have been used for the data recovery were applied to a synthesis for that category of site. Additional areas of research and study recommended by the DOTs included improving access to archaeological infor- mation, data, and documentation through a web-based repos- SUMMARY itory or clearinghouse. They also recommended that the repository include information from neighboring states. PAs, APM, and computerized inventories and GIS databases PennDOT recommended that the creation of a repository or are the most common tools used by DOTs, FHWA, and clearinghouse include breaking out important components SHPOs to streamline and enhance archaeological investiga- of project reports and organizing these components into use- tions. PAs, in particular, are viewed as one of the best tools ful units that are easily accessible. for streamlining the Section 106 process (16). Use of these agreements reduces project costs and review time; allows SHPO respondents echoed many of the DOTs' recom- greater flexibility in Section 106 compliance; focuses Sec- mendations. These included the call for regularly updated his- tion 106 compliance on substantive issues and site types; and toric contexts and regional syntheses. The Pennsylvania results in predictable project and preservation outcomes. It SHPO commented that the professionals developing historic should be noted, however, that creating and maintaining contexts must be in touch with the realities of cultural these agreements takes both time and a strong commitment resource management. As noted earlier, the Nevada DOT had from agency staff, including upper management. The Ver- the same concern. Other SHPO recommendations included mont delegation agreement, for example, took several years greater use of geophysical investigations during identification to develop and the how to manual for implementing the and evaluation phases, development of statewide archaeolog- agreement took an additional year (16). ical predictive models, continual updating of computerized
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28 site locational models, and publication of an ACHP annual cultural resource significance, became a research project report on the past year's best practices. funded in 2000 through TRB and NCHRP (3,12). This research project, completed in 2002, examined how DOTs, SHPO and DOT calls for creating historic contexts mirror FHWA, and SHPOs use historic contexts, and provided rec- the recommendations of the 1999 National Forum on Assess- ommendations on how historic context use can be improved ing Historic Significance for Transportation Programs, spon- and expanded through IT applications (12). sored by TRB. One of the top three recommendations was the need to develop regional and statewide historic contexts of The development of historic contexts continues to be a mutual benefit to transportation agencies, SHPOs, tribes, and critical issue. At the 2004 historic preservation and trans- other interested agencies (3). Similar recommendations came portation conference held in Santa Fe (discussed in chapter out of TRB's 1996 Environmental Research Needs Confer- one), conference participants identified several action items. ence. One of the research needs identified during the confer- One was to re-energize agencies and communities to develop ence, the need to improve existing procedures for evaluating and appropriately use historic contexts (see Appendix C).