Phase I, II & III Investigations

Phase IA

The most basic level of archaeological survey is an assessment of archaeological sensitivity, meaning the potential for intact archaeological resources to be present in a project area, or Area of Potential Effect (APE). This phase involves historical research, environmental context review, and field inspection. If archaeological sensitivity is low, no further archaeological survey is recommended. If the archaeological sensitivity is determined to be moderate or high, a Phase IB survey is recommended.

Featured Project

Rentschler Field Development

AHS conducted a Phase IA Archaeological Reconnaissance Survey of a World War II era airfield in East Hartford, Connecticut. The airfield was slated for mixed commercial and retail development, and the survey was undertaken to comply with the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act. AHS studied historic maps, conducted a walkover survey, and performed manual soil-probe testing to assess the archaeological sensitivity of the project area.


Other Phase IA Project Examples

Fitchburg Airport

Improvements and aviation easement acquisition at Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Massachusetts required Phase IA assessment survey in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.


Quinnipiac River Trail

Sometimes Phase IA surveys include above-ground resources as well as below-ground archaeological sites. AHS’s survey of a proposed 1.25-mile-long hiking and bicycle trail is a good example.


Phase IB

This phase of survey, also known as reconnaissance or intensive (locational) survey, is designed to identify all archaeological sites in a project area. Systematic shovel test pit sampling is employed to locate as many archaeological deposits as reasonably possible. If potentially significant sites are identified in the testing, a Phase II survey is generally recommended.

Featured Project

Former Norwich State Hospital

AHS conducted Phase IB investigations to identify archaeological resources located on the 472-acre former Norwich State Hospital property in Norwich and Preston, Connecticut. The former hospital campus was slated for development, requiring archaeological survey under the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act. Over 1,000 shovel test pits (STPs) were dug. The survey identified archaeological sites representing occupation of the project area from the Paleoindian period to the 20th century.



Other Phase IB Project Examples

Reconstruction of U.S. Route 44

Phase IB testing was conducted along 1.5 miles of U.S. Route 44 in the village of Chepachet, in Glocester, Rhode Island. Over a dozen historic-period sites were identified.


Nemasket River Drainage Project

AHS completed Phase IB testing at four locations along the Nemasket River in Middleborough, Massachusetts. The river was an important food and transportation resource for Native American tribes for thousands of years.


Phase II

If archaeological sites are identified in Phase IB survey, the investigative process continues to Phase II, also referred to as intensive surveys or site examination surveys. Phase II testing is not project-wide; instead, it targets sites found in Phase IB survey and usually combines additional shovel test pits (STPs) with larger test units, such as 1-x-1-meter excavation blocks. The purpose of Phase II testing is to collect sufficient archaeological data to evaluate the National Register eligibility of an identified site. Phase II testing defines the spatial boundaries of an archaeological site, which is required for National Register determination. When a Phase II survey is completed, clients have the information necessary to design around National Register-eligible sites because their parameters have been determined. If avoidance is impossible, an impact-mitigation plan will be developed, which often involves a Phase III archaeological investigation/data recovery program.

Featured Project

Route 11 Extension

CTDOT planned the extension of State Route 11 in southeastern Connecticut, a total of eight linear miles through undeveloped wooded terrain. Five parallel alternatives were studied, and 86 archaeological sites were identified in Phase IB testing. Sixteen of the sites were determined in Phase II survey to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This project was conducted to comply with Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act.


Other Phase II Project Examples

Reconstruction of U.S. Route 7

An archaeological survey associated with five miles of improvements to U.S. Route 7 in southwestern Connecticut identified 19 archaeological sites. Twelve sites underwent Phase II testing, and four of these were determined to be National Register-eligible.


Phase III

If Phase II identifies archaeological sites that are National Register-eligible, adverse impacts to those resources cannot always be prevented by redesign. If site destruction cannot be avoided, the next phase is excavation, also known as data recovery. Artifacts and features such as hearths are removed from part or all of the site in order to collect and preserve the essence of the site: its information. Phase III excavations, also known as Data Recovery Programs (DRPs), are almost always conducted in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and state or federal agencies.

Featured Project

Brian D. Jones Paleoindian Site

Archaeological surveys undertaken before a bridge replacement project in Avon, Connecticut, identified the earliest human presence to date in Southern New England.  Radiocarbon dated to approximately 12,500 years ago, the site was occupied during the Early Paleoindian period.  The site is named for the late State Archaeologist, Dr. Brian D. Jones, in recognition of his contribution to both the study of Paleoindians and advocacy for excavation of this site.  The site was discovered more than five feet below the existing ground surface adjacent to the Farmington River. 


Other Phase III Project Examples

Goodsell Homestead Site

Archaeological survey of the proposed realignment of an intersection in southern Connecticut identified a buried 18th-century homestead site. The house was occupied almost exclusively by a widow and her daughter. Phase III Data Recovery removed the entire house site, which was rich in artifacts related to household life, farming, and seashore resource collection. 


Pre-Colonial Site 1-12

Alongside Phase III excavations of the buried c. 1705 Ephraim Sprague Homestead, AHS removed a buried pre-colonial site occupied between 8,000 and 400 years ago.