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

EXHIBIT 5.7 Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Proposal Format and Content Guide

Exhibit 5.7 PDF version here

Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Proposal Format

The Archaeological Data Recovery Proposal, also referred to as a "Phase III Proposal," is different from the Data Recovery Plan (DRP) in that it builds on the DRP research design, and provides a work plan with more detailed information concerning project schedule, personnel, and cost. Refer to Chapter 5 Section 5-8 for a general discussion of archaeological data recovery studies.

Title Page

Archaeological Data Recovery (Phase III) Proposal Format
  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Environment/ Paleoenvironment
    • Ethnography
    • Archaeology
    • History
  • Research Design
  • Organization and Personnel
  • Schedule
  • Native American Coordination
  • Permits
  • Curation
  • References Cited
  • Maps
  • Appendices
  • In the title, identify the document as a Phase III 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, and location of the proposal author(s). The senior author is to sign the title page of the final proposal.
  • Provide the name, title, and location of the District Environmental Branch Chief (EBC) for whom the proposal 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 proposal at the bottom of the page.

Table of Contents

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


  • Provide a brief history of the proposed project as it pertains to the site.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of the project, the project’s regulatory context, and the work required.
  • Discuss the goals of the proposed archaeological work.
  • Include any other information necessary to introduce the proposal.


The content of this section will vary considerably depending on whether prehistoric or historic-period archaeological resources are being addressed. For example, less discussion of the environmental context is typically required for historic-period sites and little or no treatment of historical background needed for prehistoric sites.

  • Present background information under the following headings: Environment/Paleoenvironment, Ethnography, Archaeology and History.
  • Focus on regional research issues and how these may be addressed at the site.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the study area, the type of site under study, and the published and unpublished literature of the area.

Research Design

The research design is the core of the proposal. It should present a well‑reasoned plan that discusses the research objectives of the study 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, and contingencies should be built into the research design. Because the data recovery research design is based on prior excavations and analyses, it should focus on specific questions in a more sophisticated and elegant manner than a test excavation research design.

A. Theoretical / methodological orientation

B. Research questions:

  • Identify archaeological research topics that are important to regional prehistory and that the site can be expected to significantly address.
  • Discuss the hypotheses and test implications that will be addressed by the data recovery program.
  • Discuss how expected data will relate to each test implication and specify the data sample sizes necessary to resolve each issue.

C. 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.

Organization and Personnel

  • Describe measures to ensure that the work is of high quality and completed on schedule.
  • Identify the principal investigator, field director, crew chiefs, and analytical specialists, if they are known.
  • Describe the key participants' degree of involvement in terms of the percentage of 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.


  • Specify milestone dates for obtaining permits, fieldwork, laboratory processing, analysis 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, as well any situations that could trigger an increase or decrease in the amount of excavation (e.g., presence of burials, disturbed strata).

Native American Coordination

  • Describe the previous and future involvement of Native Americans through consultation and monitoring.
  • Describe the actions to be taken if human bone, associated grave artifacts, or items of cultural patrimony are found.


Discuss any permits that are needed to conduct the archaeological work.


  • Identify the facility that will curate the recovered cultural materials.
  • Identify the accession number, if known, under which they will be curated and append the curation agreement or letter of commitment to report.

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 project on a county or district map.
  • Study Location Map: Depict project 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 Area of Direct Impact (ADI), as well as the portions of the site where Phase III excavations are proposed. Ideally, the map will indicate proposed locations of different types of excavation activities (e.g., shovel testing, control units, backhoe trenching or grading, etc.). The base for this map may be a topographic, planimetric map or an aerial photograph. Most importantly, however, the map must be at a scale that is sufficient (e.g., 1": 200’, 1": 100’,) to allow for clearly depicting the spatial relationship between the transportation project and the proposed test excavations.
  • Other Graphics: Include additional photographs, engineering cross sections, as-builts or other materials to illustrate project area conditions and support the proposal.


  • Updated site records.
  • Information on specialized analyses to be performed.
  • Resumés of key personnel.
  • Budget listing all personnel, time, and costs (should be broken down into different activity types – i.e., field vs. lab vs. reporting – so that the cost of different phases of work can be clearly identified).
  • Curation agreement or letter of commitment from curation facility.
  • Other information as appropriate.

Peer Review and Approval

Caltrans PQS certified at the Principal Investigator level or higher must peer review the draft Phase III Proposal 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 at the Principal Investigator level may review the final Phase III Proposal for approval, which the EBC approves. The Caltrans PQS or consultant who prepares the Phase III Proposal signs, dates and includes his/her discipline, PQS level (as applicable) and District/Headquarters or affiliation. The Caltrans PQS reviewing the Phase III Proposal for approval likewise signs, dates, and includes his/her PQS discipline, level and District. Finally, the EBC approves the Phase III Proposal by signing and dating the document. See Chapter 5 Section 5-8.5 for more detailed information.