The New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), located within the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), maintains an inventory of archaeological sites that have been reported across the state. While this inventory is not a complete listing of all known archaeological sites in the state it is utilized by towns, counties and other state and federal agencies to help determine archaeologically sensitive areas and identify where survey would be appropriate. However, since the inventory is not complete, these decisions are made on incomplete data. NYAC encourages individuals with knowledge of archaeological sites to contact the SHPO and report the location of those sites.
Reporting or registering sites you have identified can:
- add important information to the history of our state
- help to protect the sites that are in danger of destruction from development
increase the awareness of archaeology in local communities
- provide important information for the next generation of avocational and professional archaeologists to build on
- provide information on the location and status of collections as well as references to sometimes hard to find research resources, including unpublished manuscripts and research notes.
If you know of the location of a site, there is an easy way to check and see if the location has already been recorded with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The SHPO maintains a website that provides extensive information on a number of historic preservation issues including the
- National Register of Historic Places
- Sources of Preservation Assistance
- Investment Tax Credit
- Certified Local Government
- Environmental Review
- Technical Assistance
The SHPO website also provides a suite of online resources including a GIS module (pdf) that displays archaeologically sensitive areas of the state, The SPHINX database, which identifies sites and structures in the inventory by name, and a module that allows you to review National Register Nomination forms for most of the listed properties in New York. Directions on how to use each of these online tools can be found on their site. By reviewing the GIS module (pdf) you can get an idea of whether any sites you know of may have been previously added to the statewide inventory.
This module provides maps that allow you to zoom in to your area of the state – turn on/off various levels of data – and see if an area contains known sites and is considered sensitive. If you identify that an area is sensitive, but can still not determine if the site you know of is in the inventory, contact the SHPO office. They will be happy to work with you to determine if the information you have should be added to the inventory.
NOTE: Please be aware that site location information is considered confidential and is one of the few categories of data that is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. This assures that any information you provide to the SHPO will be kept confidential and utilized only for legitimate research and to help protect sites from destruction. It also means that the SHPO staff can not tell you where sites may be that they already have knowledge of.
You can also search the SPHINX database to see if the name of a site you know is included in the inventory.
If it turns out that your site has not been previously reported you can add the site to the inventory by completing the appropriate Archaeological Site Inventory Form these forms are available in electronic format for ease in completing. Currently New York uses two types of inventory forms:
SHPO staff will be happy to help you complete these forms.