Archaeology consultants provide clients with information about historical and cultural artifacts. Laws in many countries prevent companies from developing land that may contain items that are of archaeological importance. Consequently, many construction firms and energy providers contract archaeology consultants to determine whether any such items are located in areas that are destined to be redeveloped or cleared to make way for oil pipelines or new construction.
Typically, consultants work on a contractual basis for commercial or consumer clients. The client asks the consultant for information about a particular area or region and the consultant conducts research before producing a comprehensive report. Consultants review historical documents such as censuses to find information about settlements that may have been located in the area. If artifacts have previously been located within a particular area then the consultants provide their clients with information about those items, and prepare a report that details the other types of artifacts that may potentially be found within the general area.
In addition to reviewing historic data, archaeology consultants also conduct field research. This often entails taking soil samples, testing the samples for traces of metal, ceramic and other materials that may serve as evidence that civilizations once existed in the area. Aside from man-made artifacts, archaeology consultants can also test ground samples for evidence of animal or plant matter that may be of historical or scientific interest. Some researchers use seismic projections to detect buried artifacts while others use sonar or other technology to locate items that may be located within bodies of water.
Laws in many countries prevent firms from disrupting burial sites and other locations that are of religious significance. In other instances, developers can build on historically important areas if scientists carefully remove any bones, pieces of pottery and other items that may be of interest to researchers. Archaeology consultants help firms to locate and retrieve such artifacts. Companies that illegally damage archaeological sites are often subjected to fines and penalties; the cost of hiring a consultant is usually much less than the cost of paying such a fine.
Some types of animal and plant matter decompose over time and eventually produce substances such as crude oil or natural gas. Energy firms often hire archaeology consultants who are familiar with prehistoric sites to help identify areas that may contain deposits of these energy resources. In such instances, the energy firms dig exploratory wells to determine the accuracy of the consultant’s findings before wholesale production work begins.