Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Savannah River Archaeological Research Program


About Us

The SRARP is a division of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.

Introduction to SRARP

The 1960s in America saw a growth in awareness of how activities impact the environment. With this awareness, people began to call for the protection of both natural and cultural resources. Protection of America’s cultural heritage dates back to the beginning of the 20th century with the Antiquities Act of 1906; however, the 1960s brought about the most significant change with the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. These two acts were followed in the 1970s by Executive Order 11593 and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979.

As a result of the new Federal and State laws and regulations, the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology/Savannah River Archaeological Research Program (SCIAA/SRARP) began in 1973 a phased approach to archaeological compliance involving reconnaissance surveys, general intensive watershed surveys, specific intensive surveys, data recovery and coordination with major land users on and around the Savannah River Site (SRS).

The data derived from these archaeological activities are used to define archaeologically sensitive areas. The sensitivity zones and the knowledge of archaeological sites are for the benefit of land use planners in order to facilitate the management of cultural resources on the SRS. SRARP provides continued cultural resource management guidance to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to assure the fulfillment of compliance commitments. Further, SRARP conducts research-based prehistoric and historic archaeological compliance for the benefit of the public, curates the SRS archaeological collections for research and informs the public on the research conducted on their behalf.

SRARP serves as a primary facility for the investigation of archaeological research problems associated with cultural development within the Savannah River Valley. The results of which are used to assist DOE in the management of more than 1300 known archaeological sites on the SRS. Finally, the logical outcome of research-based compliance is the dissemination of the new knowledge to the public and the scientific community.

SRARP Goals

The three interrelated goals of the SCIAA/SRARP are cultural resource management, research and public education. Proper management of cultural resources is dependent upon on-going research within specified problem domains (Sassaman et al.  1990 and Brooks and Crass 1991: Chapter 6) in order to accurately assess archaeological site significance (e.g., 36CFR60.6(d) and 36CFR800.10). The integration of management and research goals forms the backbone of public awareness/educational goals. The responsibilities of the SRARP are directly related to the cultural resource management goals and guide SCIAA/SRARP, USC; however, they are also tied directly to availability of sufficient funding. They are:

  • Provide management guidance to the DOE for the protection and preservation of the archaeological resources of the SRS through the Archaeological Resource Management Plan and the Programmatic Memorandum of Agreement (PMOA) (SRARP 1989).
  • Prepare annual reviews of cultural resource management on the SRS for the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SCSHPO) using standards of reporting set out in the PMOA.
  • Cooperate with the DOE, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Savannah River Forest Station and other contractors in site use planning and coordination efforts.
  • Conduct additional testing of archaeological sites to enable, in light of SRARP research problem domains, the evaluation of cultural resources currently deemed potentially eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Refine the predictive models presented in the prehistoric and historic syntheses through additional survey and site testing. Integrated with SCIAA/SRARP research goals, this will enable better decision making in site use planning.
  • Emphasize, from both a management and research perspective, the role of SRS archaeological sites as environmental resources and as a research database, both of which are integral constituents of the SRS as a National Environment Research Park.
  • Enhance, as mandated by 36CFR79 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the curation facilities maintained by the SCIAA/SRARP with adequate space for current and future archaeological collections. The preservation in perpetuity of the archaeological database, whether in situ or in research collections, is an integral aspect of cultural resource management.
  • Enhance the curation facilities of the SCIAA/SRARP with adequate storage space in order to facilitate better access to the research collections by SCIAA/SRARP staff and colleagues.
  • Provide guidance to SR in accordance with ARPA for the protection and enhancement of the archaeological resources of the SRS.


The Antiquities Act of 1906 (Section 3) and subsequent cultural resource laws and regulations state that the intent of Congress in the undertaking of cultural resource protection and investigation is to benefit recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing public knowledge (particularly the proposed new 36CFR800 Section 106 and 110 regulations). Archaeological, historical and geoarchaeological research must be conducted within the Savannah River Basin in order to adequately investigate and properly manage cultural resources of the SRS for the future.

  • (A) Conduct archaeological, geoarchaeological and historical research pertinent to the SRS and the Savannah River Valley. This will enable the SRARP to:
  • (B) Test and refine the predictive models of prehistoric and historic settlement variability, as presented in Sassaman et al. (1990), Brooks (1988) and Brooks and Crass (1991)
  • (C) Use the predictive models to conduct regional-level comparisons by physiographic province and crosscutting drainages.
  • Use the results of (B) above to construct nomothetic-level contributions of relevance to the broader discipline of anthropology
  • The knowledge from (A)-(C) above will enable the DOE to better manage the cultural resources of the SRS. This information provides a context for future National Environmental Research Park (NERP) studies.
  • Report on archaeological investigations using regional perspectives. This will provide not only a great deal of new archaeological knowledge, but a better understanding of structure and formation of sites on the SRS for DOE management purposes. This information provides a context for future NERP studies.
  • Conduct geoarchaeological research on the SRS and integrate those results with similar research in other portions of the Savannah River Valley. The emphasis will be on prehistoric human adaptations to changes in the late Pleistocene-Holocene landscape due to climatic and environmental processes. Because of the scale at which cultural systems operate, the approach employed is necessarily regional. From a management standpoint, this assumes particular importance when assessing the significance of a given archaeological site in that sites are typically evaluated in terms of their “potential to provide new knowledge of the history or prehistory of the region” (36CFR60.4). Similarly, in order to reliably interpret the archaeological record from which management decisions are made, geoarchaeological investigations are essential for differentiating natural from cultural site formation processes. This information provides a context for future NERP studies.
  • Continue to coordinate with SRS personnel to integrate archaeological site locational data into a Geographic Information System (GIS). With GIS, multivariate site locational data can be generated to make precise estimates of the probability of the occurrence of particular site types, as well as to better manage the preservation of known archaeological sites.
  • Integration of GIS archaeological data layers with the curation databases for cultural resource management. This information provides a context for future NERP studies.
  • Integration of Cold War-era facilities and processes into the cultural resource management plan.
  • Provide protection for the remnant cemeteries through Site Use System responses in accordance with South Carolina Code 16-17-600 as amended Destruction of Graves and Burial Grounds.


The 
SCIAA/SRARP continues to enhance its outreach program in accordance with ARPA [Section 10 (c)], 36CFR800 Section 106 regulations, the PMOA (Section IV), the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Section 1), as amended and the SC SHPO’s new “Guidelines and Standards for Archaeological Investigation”. In order to accomplish this, contingent upon funding, the SCIAA/SRARP will instruct, conduct and coordinate public services to be rendered to the community in the name of SCIAA/SRARP/USC and the DOE under the above mentioned laws and regulations.
The public awareness and educational responsibilities of the 
SCIAA/SRARP, consistent with SEN-23-90, are:

  • Continue to develop and implement an educational outreach program in the SRS area. This will be accomplished through public presentations that explain the methods, goals, and results of the SRARP/DOE joint effort to identify, understand, and preserve our cultural heritage. This responsibility will be undertaken by a dedicated individual, contingent upon funding, as per the new CFR800 section 106 regulations.
  • Continue the hands-on approach of the volunteer program when possible, with the goal of providing the general public with actual archaeological work experience. This will increase not only the public awareness of the goals and methods of archaeology, but also awareness of the effort by DOE/SRARP to identify, understand and preserve our cultural heritage.
  • Continue the Community History Project in conjunction with the outreach program in light of proposed new 36CFR800 Section 106 regulations. This long-term research project will draw on the fields of historical archaeology, history (both oral and written), cultural geography, and the natural sciences to reconstruct and interpret the post-contact occupation of the SRS. This information provides a context for future NERP studies.
  • Involve graduate and undergraduate students in hands-on training programs in archaeological research and cultural resource management.


The above responsibilities and goals form the basis of the working relationships between the DOE and 
SCIAA/SRARP and are consistent with both the letter and spirit of the law.  However, compliance-related implementation will be based on adequate levels of funding. The SCIAA/SRARP is uniquely qualified to undertake these goals and responsibilities due to the long history of involvement on the SRS by key staff members.
Finally, there has been a knowledge base increase during the past ten years in cultural resources and cultural resource management. The 
SCIAA/SRARP feels that, dependent upon funding, it is time to re-evaluate and update the prehistoric (Sassaman et al. 1990) and historic syntheses (Brooks and Crass 1991) and the Archaeological Resource Management Plan (ARMP) (SRARP 1989). Thus, a major documentary goal and in consideration of sufficient funding for its completion is:

  • Report on the current state of knowledge of the archaeology of the SRS and implications for managing the cultural resources in an enlightened manner.