Archaeological sites are scattered across North Carolina, from the depths of the ocean to the peaks of mountains. While these different environments can provide unique opportunities for exploration and discovery, they can also present a range of challenges when it comes to preserving and studying artifacts. Climate change is making these threats increasingly difficult to predict, and archaeologists must take into account both visible and invisible risks when assessing sites. Field studies are the most common way to identify archaeological sites.
Surveys are conducted when construction or other activities could disturb a site, or when artifacts are discovered that point to a potential location. The type of survey used will depend on the conditions of the area. Pedestrian surveys involve walking in a straight line and recording any visible artifacts or features, while shovel studies involve digging holes at intervals and recording artifacts and soils. In addition to traditional methods of surveying, remote sensing technologies can also be used to identify archaeological sites without causing any damage. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is one such method that can detect changes in soil density that may indicate the presence of structures below the surface.
Underwater, side-scan sonar can be used to map the seabed and locate parts of a wreck that may be buried. Finally, local community members can play an important role in archaeological preservation by reporting any known sites in their area or on their property to the State Archaeology Office. This information can help archaeologists better understand the history of an area and protect important artifacts from destruction.