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Archaeology & Historic Sites

One of the functions of the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office is to maintain the state inventory of archaeological and historic sites. The inventory is comprised of sites identified through survey efforts of Federal and State agencies and Idaho cities and counties. Approximately 51,000 archaeological sites and 33,000 architectural and historical properties have been recorded. 

Excavation Permit

Persons or organizations proposing to undertake excavations in or on any prehistoric site, ruins, pictographs, petroglyphs, or any other ancient writing, or in or on any archaeological deposit or site within lands owned by the State of Idaho shall apply in writing to the State Archaeologist for an excavation permit. Permits shall be issued only to applicants who are qualified by experience or professional training to conduct such excavations in an approved scientific manner (Idaho Code § 67-4120).

The letter for application for a permit shall include:

  • A description or sketch plan of the location of the proposed excavation, sufficiently precise that it can be located upon a map of Idaho with reasonable accuracy. Section, range, and township should be included where possible.
  • A brief general description of the archaeological site, including an indication of its size.
  • Name of the individual to be in immediate charge of excavation, together with professional qualifications.
  • General extent of the excavation proposed, expected date of beginning, and anticipated time needed to complete work.
  • The proposed disposition of artifacts and specimens recovered.
  • Information concerning possible scholarly publications of the findings.

Recording Sites in Idaho

One of the functions of the Idaho SHPO is to maintain the state inventory of archaeological and historical sites. The inventory is comprised of sites identified through survey efforts of Federal and State agencies and Idaho cities and counties. Approximately 51,000 archaeological sites and 33,000 architectural and historical properties have been recorded. An ongoing effort is the electronic maintenance of this data to ensure efficient access and service to researchers.

Recording forms for historic properties in Idaho are divided into two separate inventories at the Idaho SHPO. The Archaeological Survey of Idaho (ASI) inventory is focused on archaeological properties or sites, while the Idaho Historic Sites Inventory (IHSI) is focused on historic properties that are not archaeological, primarily the built environment. Researchers are asked to use the ASI site form for all archaeological recordings and the IHSI form for historic buildings/structures/objects that are not ruins. For those properties that do not fall clearly in either of these broad descriptions, or may be appropriate to both, researchers are asked to apply their professional judgement. Perhaps most important is to consider in which inventory the information that is being recorded would be the most useful.

Both the ASI site form and the IHSI site form are completed using a Microsoft Access database. Below are links to download a zipped folder containing the corresponding site form. If you need additional assistance, please contact the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office for more information, (208) 334-3861 or shpo@ishs.idaho.gov.

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