Archaeological Site File Services

The TDOA Site File maintains records of all archaeological sites recorded in the state of Tennessee. As of 2022, there are over 27,000 recorded sites in our database. The Site File Curators manage this archive, both electronic and paper, adding to it as new discoveries are made. Site File Curators can also help facilitate various types of research, depending on your needs

If you are a faculty member, graduate student, or undergrad who would like to access the site file to conduct academic research please include the following in your request:

  • A brief explanation of the nature and purpose of your research
  • Specifics regarding what kinds of information and/or documentation are needed
  • For students/interns, please copy your advisor or supervisor in your request email

If you are conducting the following types of research we recommend you start with the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA). That Open Context resource may give you the data you need. If not, you should be able to use it to produce a list of sites for which you need further information from the site file.

  • Regional spatial analysis
  • Requesting data on large numbers of sites
  • Querying the site file for specific types of sites / cultural affiliations / historic time periods

Please send all requests for academic research to TDOA.SiteFile@tn.gov. If you are an academic archaeologist conducting background research for compliance with federal regulations such as NEPA or Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, please follow the procedure outlined below. 

As of January 5, 2022 TDOA is permanently facilitating research requests virtually. Researchers with requests that are too large or complex to complete online will be invited to visit the Site File in Nashville to conduct in-person research. TDOA Site File curators will review each request in coordination with the State Archaeologist to determine if it can be completed remotely or if an in-person appointment is necessary. Research requests must be submitted by a qualified archaeologist and will be processed in the order in which they are received. 

Research requests may take up to 30 days to complete. Upon receipt of a complete research request, Site File curators will review the request and provide researchers with an estimated completion time based on the complexity of the request and the number of current requests in queue. For project scheduling and planning purposes, researchers should assume it will take 30 days to fulfill each request. 

To request background research, the following information must be submitted to TDOA.SiteFile@tn.govIf, upon review, it is determined that an in-person visit is necessary, Site File curators will make an appointment for researchers to visit the Site File in Nashville within 30 days of receipt of the request. 

Requirements:

  • Recent CV, if not already provided.
  • Static USGS topo map with project area clearly defined and locatable.
    1. The quad name should be included in the email or on the map.
    2. The map should be at a scale that shows the entire project area and enough surrounding context that it can be located
  • Specify your search radius either in the email or on the map. If you do not provide one, a one-mile search radius will be used. For questions regarding search radius for Section 106 Compliance projects, please refer to TN SHPO Standards and Guidelines.
  • State the Lead Federal Agency for the project in your email.
  • Shapefiles are not required but are strongly encouraged. You may be asked to provide them for long, large, or complicated areas.

Additional considerations:

  • Please send one project location per email unless there are overlapping search radii. Alternatively, you may send it as one request if you provide a shapefile for the whole project.
  • When possible, space out your requests to avoid sending more than three projects at once. 

Results will include:

  • Site records for sites within the search radius if they are scanned.
  • If site records are not scanned, a table of basic site data and screenshot of the location for sites within the search radius.
  • A list of known report references within the search radius. This list will not be comprehensive; it is the researcher’s responsibility to review site records and other sources to find additional relevant references.
  • Survey reports that intersect with the project area if they are already scanned. 
  • An overview map showing site locations in the general area of your project.

It is the researcher’s responsibility to review the documents provided and request additional information and/or documentation. If the requested documents are scanned, they will be provided with a few business days. Undigitized documents will be added to a list of items for TDOA staff to scan. Requests to scan documents may take a few weeks, depending on volume.

Should any changes to the research process take place, this website will be updated and an email announcement will be sent to recipients on the Site File Email List. If you would like to be added to the Site File Email List, please email us to let us know.

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 have a qualified archaeologist contact us to request background research.

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.

Contact Information 

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: 615-687-478
  • Satin Platt: 615-687-4777

Site File Hours

8:30am - 4pm CST (hours may vary depending on staff availability)