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Archaeological Investigations

State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) archaeologists provide education on cultural heritage issues, explain current state cultural resource laws and regulations and help resolve potential conflicts involving development, scientific research, and the respectful treatment of cultural resources.

What is a qualified archaeologist?

An Oregon “qualified archaeologist" (OQA) is an individual who can apply for a state archaeological permit for archaeological excavations and collection and is defined in 3ORS 90.235.  The law is asking for justification that a person already has the education and experience to satisfy terms and conditions of a state issued permit.  This is separate from Secretary of Interior (SOI) standards and many individuals who meet SOI standards do not meet Oregon “Qualified Archaeologist" statute requirements.

How do you become “qualified"?

There is an application process to become a qualified archaeologist able to apply for a state archaeological permit. The application requires thorough documentation of experience and supporting materials. Please read the guidance document with detailed instructions on how to fill out the application.

Please take your time when filling it out, read all of the directions, and only provide the requested information.  Once the application has been submitted it goes through a rigorous review process including SHPO staff and outside professionals as needed.  Applications are reviewed infrequently based upon reviewer availability and it can take time to receive a response.

This is a one-time application process.  If you have been approved in the past you do not have to reapply.

What happens if I don’t qualify?

If your application is not approved, you will be informed why your application does not qualify.  You are welcome to re-apply at any time when you are able to meet the required criteria.  A dispute resolution form is available and can be submitted if you feel your application was denied when you do meet the criteria in 3ORS 90.235.  Please review the dispute procedures in the instructions document before submitting.

​When is a permit needed?
Per Oregon Revised Statute (ORS390.235 and 358.905-961) an Oregon Archaeological Permit is needed to excavate or collect from an archaeological site on non-federal public or private lands.  A permit is also needed to probe for an archaeological site on non-federal public lands.  A permit is not required for pedestrian survey if no materials will be collected. 

Who can apply for a permit?
Any individual who meets Oregon “Qualified Archaeologist" criteria may apply for a permit.  They will have to be approved before the permit can be processed. See Become a Qualified Archaeologist section above.

Permit Application & Guidance

July 1, 2023 the new Oregon Administrative Rule governing the issuance of archaeological permits takes effect. All permit applications received on or after July 1, 2023 must use these forms and follow this guidance. We recommend reviewing either the written or video guidance prior to submitting a permit application.

What if I need to amend a permit?
Any permit can be amended by the applicant.  Please seeGuidance on Archaeological Permits or Video: Supplemental Information for information.  Complete an Amendment form and submit it to SHPO.

Have questions about the July 1 Permit Rule changes?
SHPO staff will be hosting the following two free webinars but registration is required:
-    July 31, 6:00 PM – Register here
-    August 2, 11:30 AM – Register here

​Please review the Reporting Guidelines for submitting archaeological reports to the State Historic Preservation Office. We recommend contacting our office if the proposed reporting method falls outside of this guidance.

All reports that include archaeological investigations need to include an Oregon SHPO Report Cover Page. If the report is only a literature review it does not need cover pages.  Only include newly submitted sites and isolates on the cover page. 

If there is not enough room in the location or site sections here are some bonus pages to allow you to complete the form.  If the report needs more space than these forms provide, please contact SHPO staff.

  • Bonus Pages

For each site and isolate identified or revisited, please fill out a new or updated site or isolate form.  Be sure to submit them before sending the report to SHPO.  Be sure to include the form number on the cover pages. 

If you are submitting a site or isolate form that is not or will not be associated with an archaeological report contact SHPO staff, be sure to have the form number available.

Please do not use the site and isolate forms to document Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs) or Historic Properties of Religious and Cultural Significance to an Indian Tribe (HPRCSIT). Those should be documented in an ethnographic report or a National Parks Service 10-900 form.

​Oregon SHPO regularly receives emails and phone calls from citizens who believe they have found an archaeological object (artifact). An artifact can generally be defined as an item manufactured by people of the past or a byproduct of their activities. Identifying artifacts is not always simple, and in many cases may actually relate to natural non- human processes. If you think you found an artifact, please consider the following:

What not to do

  • Do not move or collect the artifact. While it is compelling to pick up or collect an artifact, it is best to leave them where they are found. In Oregon, there are laws that protect archaeological sites, so it is important not to disturb them.

What to do

  • Without moving the artifact, take a photograph of it with a scale for reference (e.g., coin, pen/pencil, or ruler).  Be sure the photograph is at a scale where the artifact fills much of the frame. Feel free to take more than one photograph is necessary.
  • Provide a location of the artifact. Be sure to be as exact as possible.
    • Start at a large scale (e.g., the county, nearest town, if associated with a river or topographic feature be sure to include the name), and then get as narrow as possible (address, driving/hiking directions, elevation, river mile, GPS point).
  • Send the image and location information to and a SHPO archaeologist will contact you shortly regarding whether the item is an artifact, and what, if anything, needs to be done.
  • If you think you have found an artifact on your property, or believe you have an archaeological site, please refer to Archaeology Bulletin 1 – Archaeological Sites on Private Lands.

Oregon Archaeological Records Remote Access (OARRA)

The Oregon SHPO hosts and administers the Oregon Archaeological Records Remote Access (OARRA).  A GIS based web portal with information on documented archaeological resources and archaeological survey reports.

Who can get OARRA access?

OARRA is available only to professional archaeologists and researchers who meet one of the following criteria.

  • Are an Oregon Qualified Archaeologist
  • Are a current member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists
  • Work for an Agency, Tribe, contractor with a bachelor's degree in archaeology and four years work experience
  • Graduate student working under a faculty member that meets one of the above criteria

How to get OARRA access

Please fill out the following application and send it to  Be sure to attach all necessary documentation to your email. 

Found an error?

If you found an error and would like to report it to make OARRA better please log in and click on the “Feedback” button in the top right corner.  This will automatically alert SHPO staff without having to hunt us.

Need to update your account or has your account expired?

If you only had 1 year of access to OARRA your account may have expired. Please fill out a new application and submit it.  You will get an email when your account has been reactivated.  If you are having any other issues, please see the Managing Your Accounts Guide for additional trouble shooting.

See the OARRA User Guide to assist you in navigating OARRA.

Access OARRA

Archaeology Bibliographic Database

This resource allows you to search all of the reports that are in the SHPO Archaeological Library.  You are able to search by location, author, year published, keywords, or title.  After you log into your site form account, click “Report Search" in the upper left hand corner for access to the database.  These documents can then be viewed through OARRA (  If a document is in the SHPO Archaeological Library but not on OARRA please contact SHPO archaeological staff with the biblio number and they will be able to provide a digital copy of the document.

​Oregon has nine federally recognized tribes.  They consist of:

  • Burns Paiute Tribe
  • Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians
  • Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Coquille Indian Tribe
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
  • The Klamath Tribes

There are also several tribes, which are not federally recognized, in Oregon and federally recognized tribes from other states with interest in Oregon.

The Legislative Commission on Indian Services is the primary resource for tribal consultation in Oregon. They can assist you with:

  • Tribal contact information
  • Knowing the most appropriate tribes to contact for any part of Oregon

Below are links to Tribal information and positions that they have asked us to share.  We encourage you to visit each Tribes' website for additional information and resources.

Position paper on human remains



Oregon Department of Transportation Culturally Modified Tree video and quick guide:


For questions regarding qualified archaeologists and OARRA access:

For questions regarding permits:

For problems with site forms and OARRA:

All other inquiries:

For Tribal contacts:
Legislative Commission on Indian Services

Join the Oregon Heritage News Listserv for any SHPO updates, heritage news items of interest, and Oregon jobs related to archaeology. If you'd like to submit something for consideration to post on the listserv, email