Archaeological Site File Services
COVID-19 UPDATE: THE TENNESSEE DIVISION OF ARCHAEOLOGY STAFF ARE CURRENTLY WORKING OUT-OF-OFFICE TO ENSURE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF OUR EMPLOYEES. WE WILL CONTINUE TO CARRY OUT OUR MISSION AND RESPONSIBILITIES AND RESPOND TO EMAILS AND PHONE MESSAGES AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
THE TDOA SITE FILE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED TO VISITORS. See below for info on how to conduct background research via email.
For more information or to inquire about any of the site file services listed here, please email TDOA.SiteFile@tn.gov or call one of our Site File Curators:
- Paige Silcox: 615-687-4784
- Satin Platt: 615-687-4777
Site File Hours
8:30am - 4pm CST (hours may vary depending on staff availability)
The Archaeological Site File
One of the primary functions of the Tennessee Division of Archaeology (TDOA) is to maintain records of all archaeological sites recorded in the state. As of 2019, there are nearly 27,000 prehistoric and historic sites in our database. The Site File Curators manage this archive, making information available as needed and adding to it as new discoveries are made.
Qualified archaeologists may make an appointment to come to our offices in Nashville to perform site file research. When you make the appointment, we ask that you provide us with a topographic map marked with your specific geographic area of interest and, if you have not been to our offices before, a current resume or curriculum vitae for our files. We typically schedule appointments to begin Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.
Update: Given continuing guidance to minimize non-essential visitors to state facilities, Site File Curators will continue to conduct required background research via email.
To request background research, follow the following procedure:
- If you have not conducted research with our office before, please send a copy of your CV for our files
- Send research request with a static map of your project area to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send one project per email, unless you have multiple projects with overlapping search radii
- Show your search radius on the map or let us know what distance you need searched in your email
- Include the quad name either on the map or in your email
- If your project area is large or particularly complicated, a shapefile is helpful in addition to the static map
- When possible, space out your requests to avoid sending more than three projects at once
- Research requests will be processed in the order in which they are received. Timeframe for results varies depending on volume of incoming requests, but generally takes no more than a week.
Results from remote research will include:
- Site records for sites within the search radius, if they are scanned
- A table of basic site data and map location for sites within the search radius, if they are not scanned
- A list of known report references (list will not be comprehensive)
- Survey reports from list of known report references, if they are scanned and small enough files to email
- Unscanned documents can be added to a list of items to scan and send at a later date, if requested
As circumstances change, limited in-person appointments may become available. When the TDOA office reopens to site file researchers, an email announcement will be sent out and this website will be updated accordingly.
For information about whether there is a recorded site in a particular area, we can provide a brief map check via email or phone call. If you are an engineer, planner, land manager, or landowner we can tell you whether there are known archaeological sites in your specific area of interest.
Performing map checks during the project planning process and prior to any ground disturbing activities can help to avoid the destruction of significant archaeological resources, prevent disturbance of human remains, and help to avoid unexpected delays during project construction. Keep in mind that much of the state has not been surveyed for archaeological resources; therefore project areas may contain as-yet-unidentified archaeological resources. In addition, please note that map checks are not a substitute for a full archaeological background research study.
Due to the high volume of requests, we no longer provide map checks for planned cell tower locations. Please contact us to make an appointment to do site file research.
Reporting Archaeological Sites
Landowners or interested members of the public can report archaeological sites by contacting us by phone or email.
Professional archaeologists may contact us directly for a copy of the current blank site recording form. Some answers to frequently asked questions regarding recording sites can be found in our Site Record Submission FAQ.