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Last Updated: Friday, February 3, 2012 11:30 AM

EXHIBIT 5.4 Archaeological Evaluation Proposal (Phase II) Format and Content Guide

Exhibit 5.4 PDF version here.

Archaeological Evaluation Proposal (Phase II) Format

Archaeological Evaluation (Phase II) Proposal Format
  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Research Design and Work Plan
  • Research Design and Work Plan – Special considerations for Historical Archaeological Sites
  • Curation Plan
  • Native American Coordination – Prehistoric Sites Only
  • References Cited
  • Maps
  • Site Record
  • Budget
  • Other Appendices

An Archaeological Evaluation Proposal (AEP), also referred to as a “Phase II Proposal,” states the goals of the study, and clearly links the anticipated field and laboratory work to those goals. It is prepared and peer-reviewed by qualified prehistoric archaeologists and approved by the District Environmental Branch Chief (EBC) prior to excavations. Refer to Chapter 5 Section 5-6 for a general discussion of archaeological evaluation (Phase II) studies.

Title Page

  • In the title, identify the document as Archaeological Evaluation Proposal and cite the primary number and trinomial for the site.
  • Below the title, identify the proposed highway project and reference the District, county, route, post miles, and expenditure authorization.
  • Provide the name, title, Professionally Qualified Staff (PQS) level as described in Section 106 PA Attachment 1, and location of the proposal author(s). The senior author is to sign the title page of the final document.
  • Provide the name, title, and location of the EBC for whom the report was prepared. Approval of the proposal is documented by the EBC's signature on the title page.
  • Provide the date (month and year) of completion of the report at the bottom of the page.

Table of Contents

List the major proposal sections, subheadings, appendices, tables, and figures, with page numbers.


Concisely describe or discuss the

  • History of the proposed project as it pertains to the site
  • Status of Section 106/CEQA compliance
  • Goals of the proposed archaeological work
  • Character and condition of the site, as currently known
  • Any other information necessary to introduce the proposal


Present background information under the following headings:

  1. Environment / Paleoenvironment
  2. Ethnography
  3. Archaeology
  4. History

The level of detail in each subsection should be scaled to the scope of the study. Focus on regional research issues and how these may be addressed at the site. Provide a context for the development of regional research topics to be fully developed in the subsequent research design and National Register evaluation sections.

Research Design and Work Plan

The research design is the core of the proposal. It should present a well‑reasoned discussion of the research topics to be addressed at the site, their relationship to the study goals, and the specific methods and techniques to be used to meet these objectives. Research strategies should be flexible enough to be modified during fieldwork and post‑field analyses. Contingencies should be built into the research design.

All research designs share elements in common; however, the distinction between AEPs (Phase II) and Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) proposals reflects the current state of knowledge on a particular site. Generally, since little is known about the specific site(s) under investigation, the proposed AEP research design must be broad and preliminary, containing research topics to be studied by data that may be expected in the site type under investigation. For an archaeological data recovery excavation, the specific data categories that the site is known to contain, based on prior excavation and analysis, and focuses the investigation on specific research questions that allow for a more sophisticated and elegant study. Shared elements include:

A. Theoretical / methodological orientation

B. Management goals (Note: the focus should be on those portions of the site within the Area of Direct Impact (ADI)

  • Define the horizontal and vertical extent of the site
  • Identify the types and quantities of cultural materials present
  • Identify and date all components present
  • Assess the physical integrity of the site
  • Assess the National Register eligibility/CEQA significance of the site
  • Provide data to assess the proposed project's effects on the site

C. Research goals:

  • Describe relevant research topics, and show how they may be realistically addressed through the limited amount of excavation to be undertaken

D. Methods:

  • Describe the pre-field, field, and laboratory programs and how they are suited to recover the types and quantities of data needed to meet the study's objectives

E. Permits:

  • Discuss any permits that are needed to conduct the archaeological work and explicitly identify the party responsible for obtaining them

F. Organization:

  • Describe measures to ensure that the work will be of high quality and completed on schedule
  • In so far as they are known, identify the principal investigator, crew chiefs, and analytical specialists
  • Describe the participants' degree of involvement in percentage of their time devoted to the project and the number of hours they will devote to each phase of work
  • Describe any arrangements that have been made with sub‑consultants

G. Schedule

  • Specify milestone dates for obtaining permits, fieldwork, laboratory processing, analyses completion, and report submittals
  • Estimate the time required for each task and the number and duties of people involved
  • Specify maximum and minimum excavation amounts and the situations that could trigger an increase or decrease in the amount of excavation (e.g., presence of burials, disturbed strata.)

Research Design and Work Plan – Special Considerations for Historical Archaeological Sites

The research design defines the broad historic context, specific research topics, and data requirements that will be used to complete the evaluation of a historical archaeological site whose eligibility for the National and California registers cannot be determined without excavation. The scope of the research design will vary, depending on whether it is prepared to justify an Extended Phase I study, Archaeological Evaluation or Data Recovery. The essential elements of the research design include:

A. Historic Context:

  • This subsection establishes the historic context, general research themes, and theoretical/methodological orientation for the proposed study.

B. Previous Research:

  • This subsection summarizes previous historical and historical archaeological findings concerning the research themes relevant to the site-specific context.

C. Definition of Specific Research Topics and Data Requirements:

  • The specificity of the research topics will depend on how much is already known about the resource, the objective of the proposed study, and the findings made during previous research of similar topics and site types. The topics should consist of important historical questions that are likely to be addressed with data from the resource, taking into consideration the scope of the proposed work.

D. Health and Safety:

  • Specific health and safety issues must be considered when planning work at historical archaeological sites, particularly those likely to contain hazardous wastes or dangerous working conditions. Plans should be formulated to reduce field and laboratory hazards and promptly address health and safety concerns that arise during the proposed work. A formal Health and Safety Plan prepared by a Certified Industrial Hygienist may be required when work is planned in areas known to contain hazardous wastes.

Curation Plan

  • Specify the facility that will curate the recovered cultural materials and, if known, the accession number under which they will be curated. If arrangements with a facility cannot be completed prior to work, identify how and where materials will be maintained until an agreement is reached
  • If any recovered materials will not be curated, provide details of any discard policy that will be used
  • Attach a curation agreement, if possible

Native American Coordination – Prehistoric Sites Only

  • Describe the previous and anticipated future involvement of the Native Americans through consultation and monitoring
  • Identify actions to be taken if human bone, associated grave goods, or sacred objects are found

References Cited

List all references cited in the proposal text. Bibliographic format should follow the most recent style guide for American Antiquity.


All maps should display the district, county, route, post miles, and expenditure authorization for the project, and should feature a north arrow and a graphic scale. The following maps should be attached to the report:

  • Study Vicinity Map: depict the location of the Study on a county or district map.
  • Study Location Map: depict study location on portion of the appropriate USGS topographic map. Make sure to identify the topographic map by name, type (e.g., 7.5-minute), and date of latest revision.
  • Attach a map that shows the site boundaries in relation to the Area of Potential Effects (APE) and the ADI, as well as the portions of the site where Phase II excavations are proposed. Ideally, the map will indicate proposed locations of different types of excavation activities (shovel testing, control units, backhoe trenching or grading, etc.). The base for this map may be a topographic or planimetric map, or an aerial photograph. Most importantly, the map must be at a scale that is sufficient (e.g., 1”:200’) to allow for the clear depiction of the spatial relationship between the undertaking and the location of the proposed test excavations.
  • Other Graphics- it may be useful to include additional photographs, engineering cross sections, as-builts or other materials to illustrate project area conditions and support the proposal.

Site Records

Attach copies of initial site record and all site record updates for each site where testing is proposed.


Attach a budget that lists all personnel, time, and estimated costs. The budget should be broken down into different activity types so that the costs of different phases of work can be clearly identified.

Other Appendices

Information on specialized analyses and resumés of key personnel may be attached.

Peer Review and Approval

Caltrans PQS certified at the Principal Investigator level must peer review the draft AEP following the guidelines in Exhibit 2.14: Guidelines for Peer Review of Cultural Resources Reports. Peer reviewers’ names should be kept on record and comments retained in the project files. Chapter 2 Section 2-5.5 and Exhibit 2.11 Table C contain additional guidance on peer reviews and reviews for approvals.

Only Caltrans PQS may review AEPs for approval, which the EBC approves. The Caltrans PQS or consultant who prepares the AEP signs, dates and includes his/her discipline, PQS level (as applicable) and District/Headquarters or affiliation. The Caltrans PQS at the Principal Investigator level reviewing the AEP for approval likewise signs, dates, and includes his/her PQS discipline, level and District. Finally, the EBC approves the AEP by signing and dating the document. See Chapter 5 Section 5-6.5 for more detailed information.