The 16 Steps to carry out an archaeological project

Hello again, everyone! Today I am ready to summarize the basic steps that must be followed to carry out an archaeological project .

I hope this topic will be useful to various students of History, archeology degrees, masters of heritage and all those studies that have been implemented with Bologna and that I do not know very well.

The point is that there have already been a few emails that we have received from students asking for information about this (especially how a budget is prepared, to which I will dedicate a small specific article in a few days) and, likewise, a few Months we were working with two collaborating students and, when asked what interested them most about the “intringulis” of an archeology company , one of the answers was also the same: how is an archeology project carried out?

So I hope this summary based on our own experience helps you.

Here we go:

1. Read the instructions marked by the administration

First, it is very convenient to look at the indications that may be collected in the corresponding Autonomous Legislation , since in some occasions (such as the example of Castilla y León) this legislation is very detailed in relation to archaeological projects and the minimum sections that these must contain.

In the Community of Madrid , to take another example, the parts that each project must include are very well broken down in the Archaeological Actions Information Sheet that the General Directorate of Heritage delivers to the promoter of the work.

Another last clue, if the project goes to the Generalitat Valenciana these steps are included on its website .

A tip: if in these indications of the legislation, information sheets, websites, etc., they give a name to each section … you do not change it (even if it means the same thing). This facilitates the work for the technicians who have to endorse it and can avoid unnecessary requirements problems, etc.

Already knowing that the sections can vary from one Autonomous Community to another , very common sections and that are usually essential to present an archaeological action project well are the following:

2. A clear technical sheet

That includes the name of the project , the promoter of the works and an address where the administration can send them permits or any other documentation, the location of the intervention (street and number, plot, municipality), the type of intervention proposed and the archaeological address (yourselves and your address).

3. The regulatory framework on which your project is based

Ale, to work, is a little roll at best, but essential. You have to read the legislation and extract the paragraphs that best frame your project. This is also very good to know the law in which your activity is framed and the responsibilities you assume when requesting to direct a project.

Law 16/85  of June 25, on Spanish Historical Heritage and the Historical Heritage Law in force in the Autonomous Community are essential .

It is also convenient, in the case of interventions related to Environmental Impact,  Royal Legislative Decree 1/2008 , of January 11, which approves the revised text of the Environmental Impact Assessment Law.

4. The geology of the terrain

For this section, the page of the Geological and Mining Institute is very good, where you can download the MAGNA 1: 50,000 Geological Sheet of the project area and its legend.

We usually include a picture of this Sheet in the Project as it is very illustrative.

A highly recommended thing is, if a geotechnical study has already been carried out within the framework of the work , attach it as an annex and make a short summary of the results in your text.

5. A historical framework

This is clear to everyone, right? History of the area, of the property in particular, nearby sites, previous archaeological interventions carried out in the environment …

For this it is very well to consult the Archaeological Charter and Records of the municipality where the study is to be located and present the results of this consultation in this section.

6. The scope of action

Place, address, parcel or parcels. It is very convenient the coordinates in which your scope of action is framed , the shape of the plot or plot, its inclination, geographical features, surrounding roads and its location within the municipality in which it is located.

7. General description of the construction or restoration project in which the archaeological project is framed

If it is an archaeological intervention motivated by a construction or restoration project, a summary of the work to be carried out and its characteristics . An explanatory plan comes in handy.

This information can usually be provided by the promoter of the work.

8. Objectives and methodology

This section is very important because it is the one that refers to what you are going to do specifically. The objectives and the methodology of the work that you are going to develop.

It is essential to say what you are going to do (prospecting, sounding, monitoring, excavation, …) where you are going to do it , dimensions, methodology (if it is a prospecting, for example, if it is going to be intensive or selective, distance between prospectors, criteria of Collection of material, …). It is very good here to mention on which author / s you base this methodology (for example, E. Harris for excavations and probes ).

If you have already prepared a model of an archaeological element or stratigraphic unit file, a “screenshot” is very good, showing the fields you are going to complete.

Within the methodology it is also necessary to include the action protocol that you are going to follow if you locate an asset of archaeological interest during the intervention (cleaning, photography, planimetries, notification to the administration …).

If it is an excavation of an already located asset, indicate if you are going to collect samples (C14, palynology, carpology, …) for analysis and based on what criteria.

It is also convenient to include the criteria of cleaning, drawing and inventory of materials.

And, of course, the parts that your Final Report of the works will have.

9. Human and material resources

In human resources, including team members and their specific functions both in the field and in the laboratory. If you are few with names and surnames and if it is a large team with the number of people who will play each position, it is enough.

You can also (or, in some Communities, you must do so by obligation) include an updated resume of the director and the technical team responsible.

In terms of material resources , all those that you are going to make available to the project (photo cameras, total station, gps, laptops, consumables, hand tools for excavation, a booth to store archaeological material, …

10. Execution period and schedule

Indicate the time you plan to dedicate to each phase of the study in particular (an excel table is very visual). On the other hand, it is also good to indicate the term for which the archaeological permit is requested.

11. Safety and hygiene at work

Indicate the basic legislation in this regard and, if you have it, it is very good to include an evaluation of the most common risks of the performance of our work and the measures to be adopted (this is done by companies dedicated to the Prevention of Occupational Risks).

12. Bibliography

This is clear, I only put it to you so you do not forget to include it.

13. Photographs of the current state and plans

In addition to the photographs, include, at least, a map of the area or the location of the intervention area (if it is from soundings in which you can clearly see where you are going to pose them) on a topographic plan, an aerial photograph, and a cadastral plan . At least this, and from then on all the other plans that you can think of and that may seem useful to you.

To make these plans , the gvsig program is very useful and free , to which we will soon dedicate an article on the blog.

14. Property authorization or order sheet

It is essential that they sign the order for the works and that they declare that they are responsible for the expenses derived from the archaeological activity. It is highly recommended that the property certify that it is such with a copy of deed or similar.

You also sign this sheet just in case (and deliver the original, of course).

15. Budget

The budget signed by the promoter.

The Community of Madrid, for example, sets out the aspects that this budget should contain , although I will dedicate a small article to this topic soon, as I indicated above.

As basic, basic, include the games of:


-Archaeological intervention.

-Report and study of materials.

16. Civil liability insurance, self-employed, security and health

In other words, all the “paperwork” that you require in each Autonomous Community.

And, finally, remember to sign the project.

If you have any questions while you are writing it, call the administration technicians and ask them . They will give you all the instructions you need.

Well, I hope this quick review has been of use to you.


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