ABSTRACT

For more than two generations students have learned that the four National Register Criteria (A, B, C and D) were developed by the National Park Service after passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in October 1966. In The Beginnings of a New Preservation Program, James Glass detailed how a select group of Park Service staff (four historians, one architectural historian, and one archaeologist, Zorro Bradley) gathered in seclusion during the winter of 1967 to craft the criteria that would fundamentally shape the nature of historic preservation over the last half century. The language of Criterion D (properties “that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history”) was adopted by this committee with little debate or discussion.1 As a discipline, however, archaeology has an orientation to the conservation of historic resources that differs fundamentally from that of other preservation professions. “Historic preservation exists on the rehabilitation and restoration of past places and landscapes, whereas American archaeology thrives on the destruction of the past through excavation, analysis and interpretation.”2 Although recognized as presenting an extraordinary record of the American past, archaeological sites (like the practitioners who study them) were treated differently during the prehistory of preservation. The classification and appraisal of national significance for archaeological sites proved to be “a more difficult problem,” than for other types of historic properties.3