When archaeological resources are known or anticipated in an area, construction monitoring may be required by state or federal review agencies to make sure that cultural resources are not inadvertently disturbed or destroyed. This is often the case when existing construction prohibits the archaeological survey of a location, or when sites may be so deeply buried that they cannot be reached using standard archaeological survey techniques.
Archaeological monitoring requires the presence of an on-site archaeologist during the earth moving portions of a project. Monitoring involves close scrutiny of newly exposed soils in order to identify significant cultural resources. The archaeological monitor keeps detailed field notes and takes photographs throughout the earthmoving activities. If the Archaeologist detects artifacts or archaeological features that may be significant, he or she stops work in the area. Usually, when a discovery is made, construction activities will be placed on hold until the reviewing agency, in consultation with the archaeological monitor, determine the find’s significance. In cases where a site is determined significant, further archaeological work, such as Phase II Testing or Phase III Data Recovery, may be required. Effective monitoring is provided when the archaeologist knows the resources of a given area and can assess whether discoveries require further consultation.