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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 17. Libraries And Cultural Resources
Agency 5. Board of Historic Resources
Chapter 20. Regulations Governing Permits for the Archaeological Removal of Human Remains
2/25/2024

17VAC5-20-40. Permit application.

A. Application for a permit shall be in such form as required by the director, but shall include the following basic information:

1. Name, address, email address, phone number, and institutional affiliation of the applicant.

2. Location and description of the archaeological site for which field investigation is proposed, including site number if assigned.

3. Proof of ownership of the archaeological site or the property on which the field investigation is to be conducted.

4. A written statement of the landowner's permission both to conduct such research and to remove human remains on the landowner's property, and allowing the director or the director's designee access to the field investigation site at any reasonable time for the duration of the permit. The landowner's signature to the written statement shall be notarized.

5. Applicant shall provide a signed statement confirming that adequate resources (financial and otherwise) are available to carry out the approved research design including respectful reburial in an appropriate location.

6. Applicant shall indicate whether or not this permit is being requested as part of a federal, state, or local government undertaking and, if so, shall provide a brief description of the undertaking.

B. A statement of goals and objectives of the project and proposed research design shall be provided as part of the permit application. The research design shall, at a minimum, address the following:

1. How the research design adheres to professionally accepted methods, standards, and processes used to obtain, evaluate, and analyze data on mortuary practices in particular and cultural practices in general.

2. Field documentation which shall include, but not be limited to (i) photographs, (ii) maps, (iii) drawings, and (iv) written records. Collected information shall include, but not be limited to (i) considerations of containment devices, (ii) burial shaft or entombment configuration, (iii) burial placement processes, (iv) skeletal positioning and orientation, (v) evidence of ceremonialism or religious practices, and (vi) grave items or artifacts analyses.

To the extent possible, the cultural information shall be examined at the regional level with appropriate archival research. The results of the evaluation, along with the osteological analysis, will be submitted in report form to the director for review, comment, and final acceptance.

3. The planned osteological examination of the human skeletons which shall include determinations of age, sex, racial affiliation, dental structure, and bone inventories for each individual in order to facilitate comparative studies of bone and dental disease. Said inventories shall provide to the extent possible a precise count of all skeletal elements observed, as well as the degree of preservation (complete or partial); separate tabulation of the proximal and distal joint surfaces for the major long bones should be recorded.

The research design should also address at a minimum the following additional analytical techniques and when they will be used: under what circumstances will bone be examined and x-rayed if necessary, to detect lesions or conditions resulting from disease, malnutrition, trauma, or congenital defects; the presence of dental pathological conditions including carious lesions, premortem tooth loss, and alveolar abscessing to be recorded: craniometric and postcraniometric data to be obtained in a systematic format that provides basic information such as stature; and other techniques as appropriate. Although the initial focus concerns description and documentation of a specific sample, the long-term objective is to obtain information that will facilitate future comparative research. The report based on the osteological analysis should identify the research objectives, method of analysis, and results. Specific data (e.g., measurements, discrete trait observations) supplementing those traits comprising the main body of the report may be provided in a separate file including, for example, tables, graphs, and copies of original data collection forms. Unique pathological specimens should be photographed as part of basic documentation.

4. The expected timetable for excavation, analysis and preparation of the final report on the entire investigation.

C. A resume, vitae, or other statement of qualification shall be provided as part of the permit application demonstrating that the persons planning and supervising the field investigation and subsequent analysis meet the minimum qualifications consistent with the federal standards as cited in 36 CFR 61 and 43 CFR 7, as follows:

1. The qualifications of the archaeologist performing or supervising the work shall include a graduate degree in archaeology, anthropology, or closely related field plus:

a. At least one year of full-time professional experience or equivalent specialized training in archaeological research, administration, or management;

b. At least four months of supervised field and analytic experience in general North American archaeology; and

c. Demonstrated ability to carry research to completion.

In addition, a prehistoric archaeologist shall have at least one year of full-time experience at a supervisory level in the study of archaeological resources of the prehistoric period. An historic archaeologist shall have at least one year of full-time experience at a supervisory level in the study of archaeological resources of the historic period.

2. The qualifications of the skeletal biologist needed to undertake the types of analyses outlined in subdivision B 3 of this section should have at least a master's degree with a specialization in human skeletal biology, bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, or some other field of physical anthropology, plus two years of laboratory experience in the analysis of human skeletal remains. The individual must be able to develop a research design appropriate to the particular circumstances of the study and to conduct analyses of skeletal samples (including age, sex, race, osteometry, identification of osteological and dental disease, and the like), employing state-of-the-art technology. The individual must have the documented ability to produce a concise written report of the findings and their interpretation.

D. Under extraordinary circumstances, the director shall have the authority to waive the requirements of research design and professional qualifications.

E. The permit application shall also include a statement describing the curation, which shall be respectful, and the proposed disposition of the remains upon completion of the research. When any disposition other than reburial is proposed, then the application shall also include a statement of the reasons for alternative disposition and the benefits to be gained thereby. In the absence of special conditions, including those that may come to light during excavation or analysis, this disposition shall be reburial within a two-year period from the date of removal unless requested otherwise by next of kin or other closely affiliated party.

F. When a waiver of public notice or other requirement based on an emergency situation is requested by the applicant then the permit application must include:

1. A statement describing specific threats facing the human skeletal remains or associated artifacts. This statement must make it clear why the emergency justifies the requested waiver.

2. A statement describing the known or expected location of the burials or the factors that suggest the presence of burials.

3. A statement describing the conservation methods that will be used, especially for skeletal material. Note that conservation treatment of bones should be reversible.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-2205 and 10.1-2305 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR390-01-02 § 4, eff. August 14, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 25, eff. September 8, 2016; Errata, 33:2 VA.R. 298 September 19, 2016.

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