Frequently Asked Questions

In the case of development projects within the City of San Antonio that require permitting by the City’s Historic and Design Review Commission, the firm’s representative should consult with the Historic Preservation Officer of the Historic Preservation and Design Division (HPDD) of the City’s Department of Planning. The Historic Preservation Officer will inform the client regarding the type of archaeological work necessary and whether the project falls under the jurisdiction of the City (HPDD) or State (THC) oversight agency.

There are Federal and State regulations which require that before breaking ground at a project location on state or local land, or as part of a Federal Undertaking (i.e., federally funded, permitted, licensed, or approved project), a representative of a firm primarily responsible for the project shall notify the State and Federal Review Section of the Texas Historical Commission (THC). The staff of the commission will determine whether (1) historically significant archaeological sites are likely to be present within the project area, (2) additional action is needed to protect the site(s), and (3) if any archaeological survey is necessary.The firm may be required to contact a professional archaeologist to perform the necessary work.

Although it is often best to involve a professional archaeologist during the planning and design phase of a project, more commonly archaeological work is requested prior to the beginning of construction or ground disturbing activities. In planning and executing a project,it is important to remember that archaeological work will consist not only of fieldwork but report preparation and review by the State and Federal Review Section of the Archeology Division of the Texas Historical Commission. Therefore, archaeologists have to be brought into projects well before the letting date of construction unless only archaeological monitoring of construction activities is recommended by the committee.

In the planning and design phase of projects, archaeologists are asked to conduct files andrecords searches to bring to the attention of developers the existence of previously documented archaeological sites within alternative tracts being evaluated for development.This phase of work may involve archival research and deed and chain of title research to document land ownership history and changes in land use within alternative tracts. Once a specific property is chosen for development, archaeologists are called to conduct surveys for archaeological sites within a project area or right-of-way. If significant archaeological sites are identified during the survey, archaeologists will work with the client to redesign project parameters to prevent or minimize impact to sites. If this is not possible, archaeologists maybe asked to test sites to determine whether they warrant nomination to the National Registerof Historic Places or formal listing as State Archeological Landmarks. In instances when archaeologists are involved only at the construction phase of a project, they may perform construction monitoring to assure that significant cultural resources are not being adversely affected.

The cost of archaeological work depends on the type and location of the project. Work conducted at the planning and design stage (i.e., files and records searches, archival research) of the project are least costly. The cost of surveys depends primarily on the size and location of the project. The cost of National Register and Archeological Landmark eligibility testing is determined by the number and size of the site(s) being tested, and project location. Usually, the most costly archaeological endeavors are data recovery or mitigation excavations. However, even in this case there is wide range of costs dependent on factors mentioned as part of testing. Construction monitoring is normally the least costly due to reduced reporting requirements, but it could be the most disruptive on projects due to the potential for interruptions in construction schedules.

For a cost estimate, contact the CAR Director or Assistant Director at (210) 458-4378. We will ask a series of questions regarding the scope and size of your project and will also request a project location map and copies of any correspondence you may have had with the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Based on the project parameters you provided, the work requested by the THC, and our review of previous work in the vicinity of the project area, we will produce an estimate and contact you within three days.

CAR staff are pre-certified by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct Archaeological Surveys, Documentation, Excavation, Testing Reports, Data Recovery Plans (Category 2.10.1), and Historical and Archival Research (Category 2.11.1) projects under Architectural and Engineering Professional Services Contracts. In addition, TxDOT has qualified a number of CAR staff to serve as Principal Investigators and Prehistoric/Historic Archaeologists on General Services Contracts issued through the Environmental Affairs Division of TxDOT.

Visit the About CAR staff page to access vitae of individual staff members.