State Agencies

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The Catawba Nation

Native American Heritage

Artifact Curation

Military Site Management

Professional & Avocational Organizations

Volunteer Opportunities


Historic Contexts

SC Standards and Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations

SHPO Guidance for Archaeological Surveys


SC Archaeology Month



State Agencies

The South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) plays an important role in protecting the state’s archaeological heritage through its involvement in the environmental review process. The SHPO’s primary role is to consult with federal and state agencies about effects to historic properties, which include significant archaeological sites. As an advisory agency, the SHPO makes recommendations to government agencies regarding:

  • The need for archaeological investigations prior to construction
  • Site significance
  • Mitigation and preservation plans for significant sites that could be damaged by construction activities

The SHPO reviews and comments on all reports produced in compliance with state and federal laws. Staff  archaeologists are responsible for reviewing all compliance-related archaeological investigations performed in the state. They make site visits and provide technical advice but are rarely able to perform any fieldwork. Contract archaeologists perform the majority of archaeological fieldwork in the state.

The SHPO maintains records for the compliance-related projects, and is also responsible for maintaining files for sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The SHPO does not, however, manage or maintain the state’s archaeological site files. Those files are managed by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (see below).

If you have questions about the SHPO’s role in the environmental review process or need assistance, please contact a staff archaeologist.

The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) manages and maintains archaeological site information for the state of South Carolina. SCIAA was established in 1963 as a University of South Carolina research institute. SCIAA conducts a broad range of field research throughout the state and is also the legal repository for the state’s archaeological collections. The State Archaeologist resides at SCIAA. The Office of the State Archaeologist, among other things, advises the State Historic Preservation Office, other state and public agencies, and private individuals on compliance related activities. For more information about SCIAA visit the SCIAA Web site at To access SCIAA's archaeological site files, follow this link. To access ArchSite, the state's online cultural resource GIS, follow this link.

The Maritime Research Division is also administered by the SCIAA. The Maritime Research Division:

  • Reviews public notices of applications for proposed development projects to various State and Federal agencies that have the potential to impact intertidal and submerged cultural resources along and in state waters
  • Researches and documents underwater sites in the state
  • Provides an active underwater archaeology education program for students, sport divers and the public

The State’s underwater experts, including the State Underwater Archaeologist, are housed at SCIAA. The SHPO draws on this expertise and consults with the Maritime Research Division on compliance projects that have the potential to impact submerged cultural  resources.

For more information about underwater archaeology in the state of South Carolina, visit SCIAA’s Maritime Research Division Web site. The Web site includes a description of the Sport Diver Program and Hobby Diver Licensing.

The Savannah River Archaeological Research Program (SRARP), a division of SCIAA, serves as a primary facility for the investigation of archaeological research problems associated with cultural development within the Savannah River Valley. The SRARP provides continued cultural resource management guidance to the U.S. Department of Energy to assure compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. Beyond compliance and research activities, the SRARP administers an outreach program that offers a variety of school programs, lectures, tours, archaeological displays, and special assistance for the public.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Heritage Trust Program was established in 1976 to inventory and preserve the state’s most significant natural and cultural resources. The Heritage Trust has an archaeologist on staff who works closely with other staff members, related agencies, and landowners to identify and protect significant archaeological sites in the state of South Carolina.

19th Century trash pit at Johannes Kolb Site (38DA75)
19th century trash pit found during excavations at the Johannes Kolb Site on the Pee Dee Heritage Preserve. The trash pit contained bone fragments, a knife blade, a bottle base, ceramics, buttons, pins, and a pair of cufflinks.

The South Carolina Conservation Bank was established in 2003. Its mission is to improve the quality of life in South Carolina through the conservation of significant natural resource lands, wetlands, historical properties, and archeological sites. The Bank’s goal is to protect open space by acquisition of interests in real property from willing sellers. It is working to encourage cooperation and innovative partnerships among landowners, State agencies, municipalities, and non-profit organizations. For more information visit their Web site at

The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT) manages several of the state’s significant archaeological sites. The Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site offers visitors the rare opportunity to join with park staff in hands-on archaeology work while the Charles Towne Landing Historic Site tells the story of how Native Americans, English, Africans and Barbadians came together to create the first successful English colony in Carolina in 1670. For more information, visit PRT’s Web site.

Volunteers at Colonial Dorchester assist with cleaning an excavation floor in an area of a possible colonial period kitchen.

Introduction || Historic Preservation