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When it comes to the “unknown” in project planning and design, we understand that archaeology can be of particular concern.  What laws apply and when?  What happens if you find something? AmaTerra’s team of professional archaeologists have the hard-earned expertise and know-how to put those concerns to rest and keep your project on time and on budget.

File Searches and Coordination

Very often, a project's archaeological legal requirements don't include getting one's hands dirty. AmaTerra's archaeology staff can assist with:

  • Basic background studies

  • Preliminary project coordination

  • TxDOT Project Coordination Requests (PCRs)  

  • Predictive modeling

Field Survey

Whether your Section 106, Antiquities Code, or private due diligence project is measured in fractions of a mile or thousands of acres, AmaTerra can perform many survey services:

  • Pedestrian surface inspection

  • Shovel testing

  • Backhoe trenching

  • Site identification and recording

  • Regulatory coordination


With field and laboratory

facilities available for any scale investigation, AmaTerra's archaeologists are ready for on-site excavations and valued interpretation after the last unit has been filled in.  AmaTerra provides:

  • NRHP/SAL Eligibility coordination

  • Research design preparation

  • Site excavation

  • Artifact analysis

  • Curation processing

Specialty Services

Along with the more common projects, AmaTerra's staff know how to handle more challenging and unusual tasks as well. AmaTerra has extensive experience in:

  • Burial exhumations

  • Cultural Resource Management Plans (CRMPs)

  • Cold War-era site documentation

  • Storied/Historic Site Documentation (such as the Texas Governor's Mansion)  

Terrestrial Archaeology



AmaTerra's environmental staff includes numerous archaeological professionals with the broad experience necessary to complete all of your National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and/or Antiquities of Texas (ACT) archaeological survey, National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility testing, and mitigation/data recovery needs.


Our team has conducted investigations in dozens of states across the Continental United States (CONUS) on projects ranging from simple background studies to immense surveys of thousands of acres.  With Desert Southwest specialists working alongside Eastern Pineywoods archaeologists (and everywhere in-between) and directors of Paleoindian investigations meeting with historic cemetery excavators in front of the coffeemaker, our team works together to provide the best, most knowledgeable working experience for you in our industry.

Archaeologist monitoring backhoe trench excavations along Block 4 in downtown Austin.
Recording new archaeological sites discovered during survey at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
Archaeologist pauses at 19-20th century ceramic sewer pipe unearthed at the Governors mansion Austin
Here, Noel Steinle excavates a shovel test to evaluate a vehicle loading area. Marion County, Texas

AmaTerra's archaeology staff has completed hundreds of projects, from survey to excavation, in the American South and beyond. Here are a few examples of how we have helped our clients in particularly noteworthy recent projects.  


Texas Governor's Mansion 

Client: Texas State Preservation Board; Location: Austin, Travis County, Texas;
Take Away: Entrusted archaeological oversight of singular resource.

The Texas Governor's Mansion is one of the most important historic sites in Texas and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2008, the structure was set on fire by an arsonist.  During the building's reconstruction, the Texas State Preservation Board (TSPB) looked to AmaTerra to monitor potential impacts to archaeological resources during utilities installation, basement addition construction, and other miscellaneous construction components.  


AmaTerra's staff of professional archaeologists worked with the construction crews and the TSPB to investigate potential resource areas prior to construction and coordinate those finds quickly with the TSPB and the Texas Historical Commission for compliance with the ACT.  


AmaTerra's team surveyed and monitored around all sides of the Governor's Mansion, documenting eight historic features and collecting 191 artifacts.


Montgomery Hill Cemetery Excavation

Client: Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD)
Location: North Texas
Take-Away: Award-winning, unique investigation of cultural significance and sensitivity completed within a challenging timeline.

AmaTerra staff members Rachel Feit (Principal Investigator) and Willa Trask (Forensic Anthropologist), and TRWD jointly received the THC's Award of Merit for work on the Montgomery Hill Cemetery, a historic Freedmen’s (former slaves and their dependent’s) cemetery in Navarro County.  AmaTerra archaeologists exhumed the remains of 21 children and four adults at the newly-exposed cemetery at Richland-Chambers Reservoir. The cemetery had been under water since the reservoir’s inundation, but became exposed over time through wind and wave action as the lake level receded due to recent drought conditions.  AmaTerra not only documented and excavated the graves, but also delivered the remains for re-interment in a currently functioning African American cemetery.


Throughout the planning and excavation process, it was understood that if water levels were to rise and re-submerge the now-exposed cemetery, the resulting damage could be disastrous. During the excavation, archeologists raced against rising lake levels from unusually heavy rains as the waterline inched closer to the work area each day.  They successfully removed the last burials just hours before the lake rose to completely resubmerge the site.


Montgomery Hill Cemetery
Detailed analysis in field lab
Infant's casket in cemetery

Quail Run Data Recovery Project

Client: White Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
Location: New Mexico
Take-Away: Rapid investigation and detailed analysis of a multicomponent prehistoric site in the New Mexico desert.

AmaTerra conducted data recovery excavations at the Quail Run site, a prehistoric site near the main WSMR cantonment.


Although on the surface the site appeared somewhat nondescript, the excavations eventually revealed a remarkably complex history.  Preliminary investigations used surface mapping, surface collection, remote sensing (including magnetometry and soil electrical resistivity), and 248 auger tests to predict subsurface content.  AmaTerra’s archaeologists then followed with 19 mechanically excavated trenches and extensive manually excavated blocks.  These excavations identified 15 subsurface features, including two burned brush structures, three pithouses, two hearths, a roasting pit, and a cache of whole ceramic vessels and stone bowls.  Analysis of the excavated materials revealed that the site included two distinct temporal components.  The deeper, earlier occupation dates to about AD 1100 and is indicated by large, rectangular pithouses and the cache of ceramic vessels.  The shallower, later component dates after A.D. 1300 and is indicated by the remains of the brush structures and the roasting pit.


Integrated Pipeline Project (IPL) 

Client: Freese and Nichols, Inc.
Location: North Texas
Take-Away: Massive survey effort in a team-intensive setting.

IPLTrinity River Trenching
IPL Shovel Testing
Historic Archaeological Site Remnant

AmaTerra provided cultural resource services on the Tarrant Regional Water District's and the City of Dallas' IPL water pipeline project.  The IPL is proposed to connect existing water reservoirs in east and central Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The IPL pipeline (when constructed) will encompass roughly 150 miles of pipeline and thousands of acres of balancing reservoirs, pump stations, and other facilities. AmaTerra's staff evaluated potential project impacts to significant archaeological and historic resources for the project.


Working in concert with professionals from the project's environmental coordination lead, Freese and Nichols, Inc., AmaTerra's cultural resource staff assisted in pipeline route selection, completed detailed site investigation and documentation, and provided regular progress coordination.  AmaTerra surveyed approximately 14,000 acres along candidate locations, excavating more than 12,000 shovel tests and recording 69 archaeological sites.

At the project's conclusion, AmaTerra was commended for professionalism, responsiveness, and a positive working experience on this complex, collaborative effort.



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