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How it works:

Aboriginal archaeological assessments

Aboriginal objects (Aboriginal artefacts) are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), and Aboriginal archaeological assessments are undertaken to ensure that proposed development will not impact upon any evidence of Aboriginal occupation, such as Aboriginal objects, archaeological deposits, potential archaeological deposits, Aboriginal places or any areas of significance to the Aboriginal community.

An Aboriginal archaeological assessment in NSW is undertaken in accordance with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)'s Guide to investigating, assessing and reporting on Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW and the Code of Practice for Archaeological Investigation of Aboriginal Objects in NSW

The Code of Practice outlines a series of requirements for the preparation of an Aboriginal archaeological assessment. These requirements can be broken down into three main processes as detailed below: 

  1. Background Research -

  • Requirement 1: Review of previous archaeological work

A search of OEH's Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) must be undertaken to determine the nature and location of any registered Aboriginal sites within or in the vicinity of the study area and surrounding landscape. 

The information received as a result of the AHIMS search should be synthesised and analysed to determine the range and nature of Aboriginal sites within the area and to assist in the preparation a predictive model of occupation to be developed for the study area. 

  • Requirement 2: Review of landscape context

Research into the historical environmental landscape to determine the nature and character of the landscape. This will include an analysis of the topography, geology, hydrology, stream order modelling, vegetation and disturbance of the study area and surrounds. A detailed review of the landscape context will assist in developing a predictive model of occupation for the study area. 

  • Requirement 3: Summarise and discuss the local and regional character of Aboriginal land use and its material traces

Presentation of a clear and concise summary of the results of research into the previous archaeological work and landscape context of the study area and surrounds. 

  • Requirement 4: Predict the nature and distribution of evidence

Presentation of a clear and concise predictive model of occupation, developed from the background archaeological and environmental research, for the study area and surrounds. 

​    2.  Site Inspection/Field work - 

  • Requirement 5: Archaeological survey

A site inspection is undertaken to locate any previously recorded Aboriginal sites; to record any previously unrecorded Aboriginal objects or sites; to determine the potential for evidence of Aboriginal occupation to exist within the study area; and to assess the disturbance which may have impacted on any archaeological deposits or other evidence of occupation. 

  • Requirement 6: Site definition

If any previously recorded or unrecorded Aboriginal objects are located during the site inspection, it is necessary to record the visible physical limits of any Aboriginal objects and to determine the likely physical extent of the site. 

  • Requirement 7: Site recording

If any previously recorded or unrecorded Aboriginal objects, sites or any other evidence of occupation, has been uncovered, it is necessary to create a detailed a scientific record of the objects or site. If a previously unrecorded Aboriginal site is identified, an AHIMS Site Recording Form must be completed and submitted to the AHIMS database. It may also be necessary to update AHIMS site cards for previously recorded Aboriginal sites.  

  • Requirement 8: Location information and geographic recording

The location of any previously unrecorded Aboriginal objects or sites must be recorded with a GPS to ensure that the location is accurately recorded. 

  • Requirement 9: Record survey coverage data

The visibility and exposure of the ground surface of the study area during the site inspection must be recorded to assist in the determination of whether Aboriginal objects could be expected on the ground surface or buried within the study area. 

  • Requirement 10: Analyse survey coverage

An estimate of the approximate coverage, based on the visibility and exposure of the ground surface of the study area, must be determined and presented. 

​    3.  Preparation of report - 

  • Requirement 11: Archaeological report content and format

An Aboriginal archaeological assessment report must be prepared which adheres to the content and format requirements detailed in Requirement 11 of the Code of Practice for Archaeological Investigation of Aboriginal Objects in NSW. The Aboriginal archaeological assessment report will detail the background research, results of the site inspection, details of the proposed development, details of any impact on any evidence of Aboriginal occupation or Aboriginal objects by the proposed development and management recommendations, including whether Aboriginal community consultation, an application for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) and/or archaeological test or salvage excavations are required. 

Unearthed Archaeology & Heritage can undertake all these steps and provide you with an Aboriginal archaeological assessment report to satisfy Council or any other agency requirements. 


Contact us for more information about Aboriginal archaeological assessments. 

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