With more than 1,300 sites, Anne Arundel County has more recorded archaeological sites than any other county in Maryland. Many more however remain to be discovered. The assessment of archaeological potential for unknown sites is generally based on topographic and environmental settings and known resources in the vicinity. Prehistoric sites are generally found within 500' of potable water (which may include extinct springs), on flat, well-drained soils, and in areas of ecological diversity. The highest potential for such sites is along the tidewater or the Patuxent and its tributaries. The same factors are operable for early colonial period sites. Later historic sites can be found in more wide-ranging locales such as farmsteads or homes along old roads or railroads.
A suite of historic maps assist in the evaluation of historic site potential. The location of known sites is generally kept as restricted access to prevent looting.
Our office reviews each development project to determine the effect of the proposed action on significant archaeological sites. Each review determines whether there are known archaeological sites or a high potential for significant archaeological sites. Known sites are those that are listed on or eligible for the Maryland Archaeological Sites Survey and the National Register of Historic Places.
If there are known archaeological sites or a high potential for significant archaeological sites, the subdivision applicant conducts a "Phase I" archaeological survey to determine the nature and number of archaeological sites.
Archaeological investigations must be performed under the supervision of qualified professionals meeting standards outlined by the National Park Service in 36 CFR 800 of the National Historic Preservation Act. If archaeological sites are found as a result of a Phase I investigation, then the applicant, using qualified professionals, shall conduct further investigations to determine the level of significance. This is a Phase II investigation. If the sites are determined not significant, then the proposed development may proceed.
If the sites are significant, then the applicant shall revise plans so that development avoids the archaeological sites, or they can elect to conduct an approved data recovery investigation prior to disturbance or destruction. This is called a Phase III archaeological mitigation. View a summary of these phases of investigation. If the applicant chooses to avoid the significant archaeological site(s), then a preservation easement shall be required. Sample templates for the archaeological easement (Available at will provide the basis for developing an easement specific to the project. Please contact our office for more information.