The Archaeological Survey in Numbers – 2021 Update Part One

Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Survey

This week’s post is an update on the permit management system from 2021 from Alberta’s Archaeological Survey. Archaeological research in Alberta in Alberta that involves surveying and testing land or excavating archaeological sites must be conducted under an Archaeological Research Permit. Permits must be held by an archaeologist who meets professional qualifications. The infographic notes that 58 professional archaeologists held permits in Alberta in 2021; however many other archaeologists work in Alberta archaeology in addition to permit holders, such as field and laboratory technicians.

Most archaeologists in Alberta work in the cultural resources management (CRM) industry, where they work together with the Archaeological Survey and industry partners to avoid impacts to historic resources from proposed developments. CRM archaeologists working under mitigative archaeological permits assessed more than 200 projects in 2021 in all areas of Alberta. Archaeologists dug an astounding 37,000+ shovel tests in 2021 alone, on top of the excavations, backhoe tests, and other inspections they carried out that year.

Most permits were issued for Historical Resources Impact Assessments (HRIAs). Under this type of permit archaeologists determine whether a proposed development will impact archaeological resources. Many tests used in initial HRIAs are negative (shovel tests, sediment exposure examination, backhoe tests). This result is expected- tests are used to expediently locate the presence of cultural materials. After sites have been located, more detailed site evaluations (e.g. test units, excavations) are used for further assessment.

Part two of this post will discuss the archaeological sites recorded in 2021.

You can explore previous Survey in Numbers to compare statistics year over year.

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