Recording Sites Through TARL

Official State Site FormAs a part of its continuing coordination of official trinomials (site numbers) for archeological and historical sites in Texas, TARL requires that a digital site data form and a site location map on 7.5' USGS topographic quadrangle base (and/or an ArcGIS shapefile) be provided BEFORE a site number can be assigned. Ordinarily, trinomials are assigned by Jean Hughes (see contact infromation at the bottom of this page).


With the advent of TexSite, a program developed by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) for site data recording, we ask that the site data form be provided to TARL as a digital TexSite file as well as an acid-free paper document complete with all attachments. The THC's TexSite software is free. We ask for both digital and paper copies because the current record-keeping system requires both. The paper copy is essential for long-term curation and at times contains information not included on the digital form. The electronic document is needed for the Texas Archeological Site Atlas, which makes the basic site information available over the Internet. Hand-drawn materials, daily journals, etc., included with the paper form should be either original documents or excellent-quality copies, since they may be scanned for inclusion with the site form if they are not provided as part of the electronic submission. The digital data sent to TARL as well as the digital data generated at TARL (i.e. digitizing information) is transferred to the Texas Historical Commission once a month to update the archeological portion of the Texas Historical Site Atlas. This portion of the Atlas is restricted to approved users only. For more information about the Atlas, view TARL's discussion of the Texas Historical Sites Atlas below.

Texas Archeological Site Atlas

GSI mapThe archeological portion of the Texas Historical Sites Atlas is restricted to approved users and there is no charge for access. To find out how to become an approved user, visit the Atlas web site at or contact Dan Julien, Texas Archeological Sites Atlas Director, at 512.463.7199 or The Texas Archeological Sites Atlas is an extremely useful tool that is being continually improved and updated. The archeological portion of the Atlas contains information such as site forms, sketch maps, digitizing information, and map plottings. The digital map sections displayed on the Atlas include archeological site locations, archeological project boundaries and project centroids, National Register information, neighborhood survey information, and street names. Users can search the Atlas by abstract, map address, county, trinomial, quadrangle, keyword, or historic designation. The Atlas contains an enormous amount of information that is constantly growing. The critical task of updating the restricted archeological portion of the Atlas as new sites are recorded and existing sites revisited has significantly increased the workload at TARL; therefore, a fee is charged to all cultural resource management projects and other funded research endeavors (including those conducted by state agencies) to cover the personnel time involved in Atlas data upkeep (please see section on fees below).

Completing a Site Data Form

A TexSite form is basic information about a site. Although we understand that very detailed information about a site may not be available when the site is initially recorded, the form should be as complete as possible. The blank for site owner must be completed; responding with "N/A" is not acceptable.

Electronic data should be submitted as an email attachment(s) to TARL Trinomials at Maps and other attachments may be submitted in any conventional file format. ArcGIS shapefiles of site locations are especially encouraged. If your form and all its attachments have been sent by email and you wish to omit sending a paper copy via regular mail, TARL will print a paper version of the form and attachments for the files at 15 cents per page. When your information is submitted, please specify whether you would like TARL to print out your site form(s) and attachment(s) at a charge or if you will be sending a paper copy via regular mail.

If Internet transmission is a problem, the data can be provided to TARL on a CD. Please mail an acid-free paper copy of the site form(s) and attachment(s) along with a CD to:

The University of Texas at Austin
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
Attn: Jean Hughes
1 University Station R7500
Austin, TX 78712

Or if you would prefer to ship your acid-free paper copy of the site form(s) and attachment(s) along with a CD using FedEx or UPS, etc., please use the following address:

The University of Texas at Austin
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
Attn: Jean Hughes
J.J. Pickle Research Campus #5, R7500
10100 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78758-4445

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Filing a Revisit Site Data Form

The process outlined above and the stated fees for incoming site data forms also apply when returning to a site under other circumstances; e.g., a "revisit" to a previously recorded site which is generated through a new contract or a new phase of work. Revisit site forms - acid-free paper copy with attachments and an electronic version - supply extremely valuable information documenting how sites change through time as well as how different researchers assess a given site. They also provide new information on what work has been done on a site. Fields in the form should be completed with annotations about the data observed on the revisit. Each revisit form should be accompanied by a topographic map showing the site in its present configuration, as well as newly-generated sketches of the site or of recently-noted artifacts.

Frequently Found Problems

One of the important pieces of information required in site recording is the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates. When recording this information, please be sure to specify the datum (NAD 27 or 83, WGS 84) used. When Texas archeologists began using UTM coordinates in the 1970's, they were calculated from the NAD 27 grid ticks displayed on USGS 7.5' topographic maps. TARL keeps an updated set of site locations on its hard copy 7.5' quads, but since the use of GPS units and digital maps has become standard, TARL now uses NAD 83 as the primary datum.

While incoming site data forms are checked for some errors, those turning in site forms should be reminded that they are responsible for proofing and spell-checking the submissions before they are sent to TARL. TexSite does have a spell-check feature available. Generally, what comes to TARL is what gets placed on the Atlas.

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The site form submission fee and the fee for revisit form submission is $64.00 per site when an electronic version of the site data form is supplied along with an acid-free print of the form (as well as a copy of the appropriate section of a USGS map and any supplemental attachments). TARL offers substantially a reduced fee (25% discount) if ArcGIS shapefiles are provided in addition to the standard site documentation. Having GIS data supplied along with the site forms significantly reduces the processing time involved in preparing a site for the Atlas (not to mention the benefits of precise, accurate mapping).

In order to facilitate the processing of fees, invoices are now prepared and mailed as the form is uploaded into TARL's TexSite/Atlas database. They are payable within 90 days. This will allow those of you with short term projects to pay from these projects while they are active and will allow state agencies wishing to minimize paperwork to accumulate invoices for quarterly payments.

If you have forms to turn in that are long overdue (with or without trinomials), please check with TARL staff to ascertain whether or not the charges will be assessed. Forms submitted by avocational archeologists, student archeologists, or from pro bono research projects are not charged site record submission fees.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions. As always, we thank you for your support and cooperation.

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Jonathan Jarvis, Associate Director,, 512.471.5959
Rosario Casarez, Registrar,, 512.232.1806
Jean Hughes, TexSite & Atlas Coordinator,, 512.475.8162