tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Interpreting the Fifty-Year Rule: How A Simple Phrase Leads to a Complex Problem

Author(s): David Yoder

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata

Summary

For over 40 years some archaeologists have labored under a distorted interpretation of the fifty-year rule in which anything over 50 years of age becomes ‘archaeological’ and therefore must be recorded and evaluated for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. A re-examining of federal law shows that this is a mistaken interpretation. Data from the Intermountain Antiquities Computer System indicates that if this practice continues the number of featureless historical sites requiring documentation in the West will greatly increase at a large expense to the public, and that most of these costs will be associated with sites not considered significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture. Solutions are presented that will give archaeologists greater flexibility in recording material culture over 50 years of age, allowing us to redirect our efforts to resources of greater interest while making the practice of archaeology more defensible to the public. These problems are symptomatic of a larger issue that relates to how cultural remains from the latter part of the 20th century and beyond will be valued. The discipline of archaeology must begin candid conversations about the relative importance of such recent material culture and its management implications.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.


This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Cite this Record

Interpreting the Fifty-Year Rule: How A Simple Phrase Leads to a Complex Problem. David Yoder. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397349)


Keywords


Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.761; min lat: 29.917 ; max long: -109.27; max lat: 42.553 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America